Right whales facing extinction after 17 die this year, scientists say
11 December, 2017, 23:27 | Author: Darnell Taylor
Experts say it's now time to face the reality that the species could go extinct unless immediate action is taken.
North Atlantic right whales are some of the rarest marine mammals on the planet, and they have not had a good year, ABC News reports. Seventeen of these endangered creatures were found dead off the coasts of New England and Canada, and marine biologists on December 5 (pdf) said that they believe the species could be extinct within 20 years if no official action is taken to save them.
This species of whale is among the most endangered in the entire world, and they could be wiped out if their population isn't recovered soon, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
"You do have to use the "extinction" word, because that's where the trend lines say they are", John Bullard, the northeast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, told the AP. "That's something we can't let happen". Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant for NOAA, said right whales have been declining in abundance since 2010, with females hit harder than males. But given the low birth rate of this whale species, "the current status of right whales is a critical situation", he writes.
All of 2017′s right whale deaths occurred off the coast of New England and Canada, officials said, and were frequently caused by human activity.
Scientists are raising a red flag over the future of endangered right whales after a high number died in 2017.
Per the Guardian, there are only about 100 breeding female whales active in the species, making the fear of extinction all the more real.
Why do right whales get killed so often? Various studies on why whale deaths have gone up cite several possible reasons, such as whales searching outside of protected areas for food or entanglement in fishing gear that causes them stress. For centuries, we hunted the massive sea creatures for their oil and meat until they were nearly extinct.
More right whales are killed each year than born, said Christin Khan, a fisheries biologist for the NOAA, in November.
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