North Atlantic right whales are on the brink of extinction. At least thirty whales have been killed between 2017-2019.  Today, only about 360 North Atlantic right whales remain, including fewer than 100 females.  

The biggest threats to right whales are both preventable: ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear. 

It is almost impossible for fast-moving ships to avoid colliding with slow-moving right whales.  A ship strike can result in injuries like painful cuts from propellers or death. Researchers have found that pregnant females and mothers with calves may be more susceptible to ship strikes, as they spend more time resting and nursing at the surface.

Oceana Canada is campaigning to slow ships down. From April 28 to June 15, 2020, a shocking 67 per cent of ships went faster than the voluntary 10-knot speed limit intended to protect right whales in the Cabot Strait.

Investigate ships for yourself with Ship Speed Watch, an innovative tool that allows users to monitor ship speeds and positions in areas frequented by North Atlantic right whales in near real-time. Learn more about our investigation into ship speeds and take action here >>

Additionally, a jungle of roughly one million fishing lines sprawls across the whales’ migration route and feeding areas in Canada and the United States. These ropes have been seen wrapped around North Atlantic right whales’ mouths, fins, tails and bodies or cut into the whales’ flesh. These injuries can lead to life-threatening infections, as well as prevent them from feeding properly which leads to starvation and death. Emerging threats like seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deep below the seafloor, put the species at even greater risk.

To prevent extinction, right whales must be protected. Oceana’s campaign works to do this by reducing the amount of vertical fishing lines in the water and requiring ships to slow down.