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NOAA announced this week that it is extending its ship speed protections for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale until Nov. 15 in waters off of southern New England and east of Long Island, New York. According to the latest population estimate, there are even fewer endangered North Atlantic right whales than previously thought. The number of right whales is now estimated at only 366 — down from 412 — with only 94 females able to give birth. As WBUR reported, Right Whales have “struggled with poor reproduction and high mortality over the last decade.” Over 200 of them have died over the past decade, all because of humans. The primary culprits? Ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.
Right now, ship speed restrictions are only mandatory for vessels 65 feet and longer. There are also seasonal restrictions along the East Coast, from New England down to the whales’ calving groups off the coast of Florida and Georgia. Expanding the areas and times with mandatory restrictions protections is even more important because the climate crisis is shifting right whales’ migration patterns, making it harder to predict exactly where they will be. Warmer waters are changing the locations of the plankton they feed on; this was the first year in the past 40 that not a single right whale was spotted in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.
Another protective measure is shifting to ropeless fishing. Right now, fishing for lobster or snow crab means using a trap or pot connected to a surface buoy by a thick, heavy rope. Whales get entangled in that rope, which can dig into their bodies and get trapped in their baleen, leading to injuries, starvation, and death. Ropeless fishing eliminates that threat.
To Go Deeper: Check out the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Catalog. Every right whale alive today is cataloged there, as are whales that have died over the years. Many whales have names, like Fermata or Quasimodo.
A new paper released by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with seven other environmental organizations outlines the ways that the ocean, often thought of as a victim of climate change, can be utilized to best combat global rising temperatures.
Why This Matters: We’ve written a lot about how the sea level is rising, and the ocean is warming, fueling stronger storm systems, and declines in biodiversity.
One of our nation’s best-kept secrets is that we have national parks in the ocean — not right offshore — but out in the blue. And yesterday, one of them was tripled in size after years of work by non-profits, the Texas and Tennessee Aquariums, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, that supports these blue […]
New York state selected Norwegian energy giant Equinor to build and supply clean energy from two offshore wind facilities in one of the largest renewable energy deals ever in the United States, according to Reuters.
Why This Matters: Offshore wind projects are a highly anticipated source of clean, renewable energy — but have been hard to get off the ground so far.
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