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October 25, 2020 - Cape Cod Times

Path to extinction continues for North Atlantic right whales

Path to extinction continues for North Atlantic right whales
Right whale facing extinctionCredit: NOAA

Scientists say to avoid species extinction and rebuild their population, fewer than one North Atlantic right whale per year can be lost to human-caused mortality or serious injury. Entanglement in fishing lines or being struck by a vessel are the two main causes of human-induced death in the world’s most endangered great whale species.

After years of progress and cooperation with the shipping industry, vessel strikes again appear to be on the rise, with vessels ignoring speed restrictions imposed where right whales have been spotted. The number of whale entanglements also are headed in the wrong direction, with four confirmed entanglements in U.S. waters this year, including three recent sightings in New Jersey and Massachusetts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that a 60-80% drop in the number of whale mortalities is needed, but combined with stalled progress on a plan to reduce fishing impacts, the future for this whale again appears bleak.

If trends continue, the North Atlantic right whale could be the first great whale in modern history to go extinct, and those in the animal rights and conservation communities say the time to act is now.

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Cape Cod Times

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