Featured Image: BRIAN J. SKERRY, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION
North Atlantic right whales are in peril. With less than 450 whales left in the oceans, scientists fear that the species will be functionally extinct in just 20 years.
Although they are declining, human interactions are making it worse. As these animals speed towards extinction, human interactions are pushing them closer to the edge. Between lobster trap entanglements and collisions with ships, their numbers are thinning rapidly.
The whales were always facing negative impacts from humans. After centuries of whaling, these whales earned their name “right” whale because they were the “right” whales to harpoon. By the early 20th century, these whales were reduced to just 60 reproductive individuals. Almost by a miracle, these animals rebounded to about 500 animals, but now they are declining again.
Not only do these whales have to cope with human disturbances, but they also have to cope with a changing ocean. The warming climate has redistributed their once abundant food sources and creating a new migration pattern that brings the whales even closer to human activities.
Scientists are working hard to understand these whales before it is too late to save them. Some fear that it is already too late, but the fight must continue until the last.
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