Image Source: NOAA
In the past three weeks, four North Atlantic Right Whales have been found dead. All four of the whales were found in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. The four whales represent a loss of 1% of the total population in the span of 3 weeks.
One whale, Comet, was a 33-year-old male that had recently become a grandfather. Another, Punctuation, was a female in her breeding years that had already birthed 8 calves. The other two whales were a younger male and a female.
The loss of these animals is a significant blow to the population. The New England Aquarium, said, “the loss of sexually mature females is biologically a major loss to this species that has seen a precipitous population decline over the past several years.”
Apparently, the whales were in the area because the warming waters had reduced their food source of copepods in their normal feeding grounds. The cause of death for these animals is not yet known, however, a study published this month suggests that they may be human activity. The study looked at the death of 70 North Atlantic Right Whales over the course of 15 years, and found that 90% of the deaths were human caused.
It is a sad blow to the population, but all hope is not yet lost.