A right whale feeding just below the surface of Cape Cod Bay offshore from Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Photo: Right Whale Research / AP

By Joanna Walters
26 February 2018

(The Guardian) – The dwindling North Atlantic right whale population is on track to finish its breeding season without any new births, prompting experts to warn again that without human intervention, the species will face extinction.

Scientists observing the whale community off the US east coast have not recorded a single mother-calf pair this winter. Last year saw a record number of deaths in the population. Threats to the whales include entanglement in lobster fishing ropes and an increasing struggle to find food in abnormally warm waters.

The combination of rising mortality and declining fertility is now seen as potentially catastrophic. There are estimated to be as few as 430 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, including just 100 potential mothers.

“At the rate we are killing them off, this 100 females will be gone in 20 years,” said Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Without action, he warned, North Atlantic right whales will be functionally extinct by 2040.

Baumgartner said that until about seven years ago, the population of North Atlantic right whales was healthy. But then lobster fishermen began greatly increasing the strength of ropes used to attach lobster pots to marker buoys.

Whales becoming entangled are now far less able to break free, Baumgartner said. Some are killed outright, others cannot swim properly, causing them to starve or to lose so much blubber that females become infertile.

“Lobster and crab fishing and whales are able to comfortably co-exist,” Baumgartner said. “We are trying to propose solutions, it’s urgent.” [more]

North Atlantic right whales may face extinction after no new births recorded


  1. Anonymous said...

    Do you have any suggestions on where to live in the US, as the climate chaos plays out? Obviously the SE coast is no good, in addition to flood plains. Other than those, are there areas that will fare better?  

  2. RoseWrites (aka sousababy) said...

    I alerted the NOAA April 2017 about Wolbachia most likely being the root cause of their mortality. They (and others) have completely ignored the study literature I sent them.

    Wolbachia is a reproductive parasite. It can live outside of a cell for (at least) 1 week with no decrease in viability. It can also be grown in human lung cells at 37 degrees C (normal body temp). These whales have a body temp. very close to ours.

    Also, these whales are highly promiscuous. And, whales have also suffered West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus. Zika is supported over 97 percent within that phylogenetic clade. I highly suspect Zika is the phage that is enabling Wolbachia to infect vertebrates (including humans). But other viruses could too.

    I wrote to the pathologist, Dr. Daoust, who led the necropsies in Canada. His response (also used twice in their official report): An infectious cause "cannot be ruled out, but is unlikely". Imagine if we said that to a woman that might be pregnant, LOL.

    I have a petition to demand these whales are tested for Wolbachia because azithromycin might save them from extinction: https://www.change.org/p/investigate-north-atlantic-right-whale-deaths-without-the-noaa-a-u-s-gov-t-agency  


Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews