Protect North Atlantic Right Whales
North Atlantic Right Whales are on the Brink of Extinction
Oceana campaigns in Canada and the U.S. to protect North Atlantic right whales from their biggest threats
Oceana seeks to reduce threats to North Atlantic right whales, including entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes.
North Atlantic right whales are on the edge of extinction. Between 2017 and 2020, at least 32 right whales died, 21 of them in busy Canadian waters. Today, only about 360 of these whales remain, including fewer than 100 females.
The biggest threats to right whales are both preventable: vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing gear.
It is almost impossible for fast-moving vessels to avoid colliding with slow-moving right whales. A vessel 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 vessel strikes, as they spend more time resting and nursing at the surface.
From April 28 to June 15, 2020, and again from October 1 to November 15, 2020, two-thirds of vessel transits exceeded the voluntary 10-knot slowdown intended to protect right whales in the Cabot Strait. More than 40 per cent exceeded 12 knots, significantly increasing the risk of inflicting a potentially lethal injury to a right whale.
Investigate vessels 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 vessel 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 vessels to slow down.
Click here to read The Edge of Extinction: Protecting North Atlantic right whales >>