Rare North Atlantic Right Whale Dies Entangled in Fishing Gear
She was #3893 in the New England Aquarium’s catalog of North Atlantic right whales. But, as one of only around 100 reproductively mature North Atlantic right whales remaining on the planet, she may well have helped save her species from extinction.1
Last Monday, whale #3893 was found dead and entangled in fishing line off Virginia’s coast in what is 2018’s first reported North Atlantic right whale death.2
North Atlantic right whales on the brink of extinction.
Once numbering in the tens of thousands, only around 450 of these whales remain in the wild.3 Fishing gear entanglement and ship strikes killed 17 of them just last year.4 If things keep going like this, scientists say these amazing marine animals could be extinct in the wild by 2040.5
How You Can Help
The two leading causes of human-caused North Atlantic right whale deaths are ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.6 The US government has lowered permitted vessel speeds to reduce ship strikes. But to save these whales we have to prevent deadly fishing entanglements too.
That’s why today we’re calling on the National Marine Fisheries Service to begin emergency rulemaking to reduce fishing gear entanglements. Specifically, we’re calling on the agency to reduce the allowed break-limit on fishing gear, so that North Atlantic right whales like #3893 can better free themselves from potentially fatal entanglements.
1. Elizabeth Pennisi, “The North Atlantic right whale faces extinction,” Science, November 7, 2017.
2. Dave Mayfield, “Right whale death off Virginia coast adds to concern about species’ demise,” The Virginian-Pilot, January 29, 2018.
3. Colin Woodard, “Right whales could be extinct in less than 25 years, scientists warn after spate of deaths,” Portland Press-Herald, October 25, 2017.
4. Dave Mayfield, “Right whale death off Virginia coast adds to concern about species’ demise,” The Virginian-Pilot, January 29, 2018.
5. Colin Woodard, “Right whales could be extinct in less than 25 years, scientists warn after spate of deaths,” Portland Press-Herald, October 25, 2017.
6. “Human-Caused Mortality and Injury to the North Atlantic Right Whale,” US Marine Mammal Commission website, retrieved January 30, 2018.