Biologists of NOAA Fisheries have announced on Wednesday that only 450 endangered North Atlantic right whales remain in the oceans. If these animals keep getting hit by ships and getting tangled in fishing gear, researchers believe the right whale will be wiped off the planet in the next 20 years.
The biologists warned that there are only 450 remaining white whales in the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and North Pacific Oceans, and their numbers are dwindling every day.
“We are very concerned about the future of North Atlantic right whales,” said Barb Zoodsma, right whale biologist for NOAA Fisheries, in a prepared statement.
John Ballard, who is the regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, urges both US and Canada to work on preserving the species. The two countries are discussing possible fishing and shipping regulations to protect the right whale from becoming extinct.
The ongoing discussions stem from 17 whales deaths this year, 12 of them being in Canadian waters.
What’s more concerning is the low number of live female whales. Zoodsma and her team of biologists estimate that only 105 breeding females are left and they are “producing fewer calves”.
According to NOAA officials, the female whales produced five calves in this year with the average number of calves annually being 11. Previous NOAA data revealed that from 1980 to 1992, approximately 145 calves were born out of which 65 were identified females.
Right whale mating season occurs in mid-November and continues until mid-April during which boaters are told to stay alert and steer clear of the right whales.
Biologists claim the reason for their dwindling numbers is entanglement in commercial fishing gear. This can inhibit the whales from eating or swimming as well as cause lethal infections.
Federal law requires all boating vessels and aircraft to keep a distance of 500 yards from right whales in order to reduce the risk of collision.
Image Source: NOAA