Jul 21, 2023
Right whales living in the North Atlantic Ocean near the US and Canada are in greater danger of dying out than we thought, according to new studies.
Right whales are the biggest of their specific species, but scientists say there are fewer than 340 left. Out of these, only 70 are females that can still have babies. This makes their situation even more serious.
In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found something strange. They said that the right whale was part of an "unusual mortality event." This means that the whales started to die off unexpectedly.
Last week, NOAA estimated that 114 whales have died or been seriously injured since 2017. That is 16 more whales than estimated earlier this year. The NOAA made this estimate using pictures from planes and drones, as well as surveys with researchers.
Scientists say the main reason for the whales' decline is human activity in the Atlantic. Whales often bump into fast boats or get stuck in fishing gear. These injuries can last for years. They also make it harder for the whales to reproduce and survive. Officials have pushed for stricter laws, but the fishing industry has pushed back.
The massive whales can grow to 50 feet long and weigh up to 150,000 pounds. But they have been getting smaller as they face more danger from humans.
These whales have their babies near the coasts of Florida and Georgia. They usually feed near New England and Canada. The government gave these whales protections years ago under the Endangered Species Act. In December, officials decided those protections will stay.
Reflect: Why is it important to understand and keep track of the status of endangered species?
The Solution to Climate Change Is All Around Us
This video outlines three nature-based solutions that are imperative to fight climate change, slow the sixth mass extinction event, and protect the planet for future generations: restore and protect forests, protect wildlife, and rebuild wild coastal habitats.
Why Is Biodiversity So Important?
This beautifully animated video shows the many ways that nature and biodiversity are vital to continuing life on Earth and how species extinctions and habitat destruction are jeopardizing our future.
Are We Living in the Sixth Extinction?
This video discusses the current and historic rates of species extinctions and the current and historic causes of species extinctions on Earth.