Friday, 3 November 2017

Right whales, already an endangered species, may face a dim future

Date:  October 30, 2017
Source:  University of California - Santa Barbara

When 15 North Atlantic right whales turned up dead in U.S. and Canadian waters in the summer of 2017, it was declared an unprecedented mass mortality event. For a highly endangered species with slightly more than 500 animals remaining, the crisis signals a major shift in the population's recovery -- corresponding to a 3 percent loss.

Of the seven whales necropsied, six deaths were caused by humans -- four by ship strike, two by fishing gear entanglement -- and one was inconclusive. In addition to the staggering number of deaths, scientists also are puzzled by the location where most of the whale carcasses were discovered: Twelve were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, well north of the species' typical distributional range.

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