Canada: Right whales are now feeding in dangerous shipping routes - PressFrom - Canada
  •   
  •   
  •   

CanadaRight whales are now feeding in dangerous shipping routes

16:27  14 august  2019
16:27  14 august  2019 Source:   pri.org

At least 100 right whales spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence, researcher says

At least 100 right whales spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence, researcher says At least 100 right whales spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence, researcher says

Right whales have followed a type of plankton to waters further north — putting them into highly trafficked shipping lanes. North Atlantic right whales , an endangered species, usually spend their summers in and around the Gulf of Maine to feed on copepods.

Right whales are on the move in Canada, seeking new feeding grounds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada should institute mandatory, seasonal ship speed reductions there. At the same time, the United States should expand aerial surveillance of its waters this year to monitor which routes whales are

Right whales are now feeding in dangerous shipping routes © Moira Brown/The New England Aquarium, Wikimedia Commons

North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species, usually spend their summers in and around the Gulf of Maine to feed on copepods.

At the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Christy Hudak, a researcher in the Right Whale Ecology Program, leaned over a microscope looking at a water sample, counting and categorizing different kinds of plankton.

“Right whales love a specific type of plankton, which are called copepods. They are more of a tiny crustacean plankton — think of crabs, or shrimp,” Hudak said.

For decades, endangered right whales spent summers in Canadian waters like the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin, feasting on these copepods. But copepod numbers in those places have fallen in recent years.

Three southern resident killer whales declared dead plunging population to 73

Three southern resident killer whales declared dead plunging population to 73 VANCOUVER — Three southern resident killer whales have been declared dead by the Center for Whale Research, bringing the population down to 73. The dead killer whales are a 42-two-year-old matriarch known as J17, a 28-year-old adult called K25, and a 29-year-old male called L84, the institute posted on its website. "These whales are from the extremely endangered southern resident killer whale population, that historically frequent the Salish Sea almost daily in summer months," it said. Experts had expressed fear after two southern resident killer whales, J17 and K25, hadn't been seen for a few months.

No, whales aren ’t typically dangerous . Actually for the most part whales are generally curious and friendly oceanic creatures. In some cases they can even be seen approaching boats in an attempt to understand what’s going on. Those that aren ’t particularly curious are often solitary and shy.

Slow moving right whales are highly vulnerable to ship collisions, since their migration route crosses major East Coast shipping lanes. The new rule requires vessels to travel at ten knots or less during the seasons whales are expected to be present, in designated areas along the East Coast.

“And so [North Atlantic right whales] left those areas because it just was not a rich source of food for them when they needed it,” Hudak said.

In 2017, researchers discovered North Atlantic right whales congregating farther north, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence — a place they’d rarely been recorded going. It’s an area that just happens to have highly trafficked shipping lanes.

In the last two years alone, 20 right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters. Of the 11 that could be necropsied and studied, seven were found to have died as a result of vessel strikes.

Researchers worry collisions with ships are increasingly to blame.

Sean Brillant, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, says there’s an underlying cause putting whales in harm’s way.

This photographer transformed a shipping container into a working camera

This photographer transformed a shipping container into a working camera This photographer transformed a shipping container into a working camera

Right whales feed by opening their mouths while swimming slowly through large patches of minute zooplankton and copepods. This means that North Atlantic right whales are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant Recommending alternative shipping routes and areas to be avoided.

The shipping lanes of the US East Coast are located directly in the path of the migratory routes that right whales take every year, from their breeding grounds in the Southern Atlantic, to their feeding grounds off the coasts of Massachusetts.

“Climate change is almost definitely responsible for the change in distribution of the whales,” Brillant said.

That’s because the copepods are thriving in cooler waters farther north, as the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin have gotten too warm for them.

“I think that [the whales] are still sort of settling out and figuring out how they're going to use the gulf and [find] the best food,” Brillant said. “And of course there's a lot of variability from year to year. This makes it very challenging for managing our human activities.”

The first year they were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was a disastrous one for North Atlantic right whales. In 2017, 12 were found dead from ship strikes and entanglements.

In response, the Canadian government introduced new regulations to try to protect the whales, imposing temporary speed restrictions in areas where they were spotted.

“In 2018 they actually enacted really nice mitigation measures that seemed to help the whales fare a little bit better because there were no deaths in Canadian waters last year,” said Sarah Sharp, a veterinarian with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The fearless rescuers who save right whales from certain death

The fearless rescuers who save right whales from certain death A North Atlantic right whale is tangled up in fishing gear and likely to die—unless this dauntless rescue team gets to him first

North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whale species in the world. Hundreds of years of commercial whaling decimated the North Atlantic right whales are found from Atlantic Canada to the southeastern United States and migrate along the length of the east coasts of

This North Atlantic right whale , found dead in June, had injuries suggesting it was hit by a ship . The marine animal response society. In the meantime, the deaths have focused new attention on whether the whales ' range is shifting northward, putting more of the animals in dangerous waters.

But this summer, already eight of the whales have been found dead, including two in the last week.

Sharp says this year has been so deadly for two reasons.

First, all of this is new, for whales and Canadian authorities alike.

“One of the big failures, unfortunately, this year was the whales were just in a different place than where they had been in previous years,” Sharp said. “And so what they had set up in terms of protections didn't apply because that's not where the whales were.”

They’re showing up just a little east, probably in search of food, putting them in the middle of shipping lanes.

The second reason for the spike in deaths, say whale advocates, has to do with the Canadian government’s response. They point to some of the 2018 speed restrictions Canadian authorities rolled back this year. In some areas, speed limits only applied after a whale was seen.

“The problem was that the weather had been bad all through June and survey effort was less than it was the summer of 2018,” according to Erica Fuller, a lawyer with the Conservation Law Foundation. “So in the absence of sighting a whale, the triggers often didn't get triggered.”

‘That’s really close’: Orca pod comes within inches of Olympic rower’s B.C. dock

‘That’s really close’: Orca pod comes within inches of Olympic rower’s B.C. dock Three-time Olympic medalist Silken Laumann posted video of the close encounter, which she says is happening more frequently near her Victoria-area home.

Instead of frolicking and feeding in the middle of a dangerous ocean "highway" filled with massive cargo ships with sharp propellers, endangered humpback whales named Echo, Owl, Glo, and Pepper now find themselves on a much safer shoulder. In a first-of-its-kind move in the US, ocean shipping

Southern right whales are similar to humpbacks in that they feed in Antarctica in the summer and then migrate north to Australia to breed and give birth (especially in southern corners of Australia, around the Great Australian Bight). On the east coast, southern right whales tend to migrate between Cape

Early in July, the Canadian government responded by introducing more seasonal regulations on speed, and added funding for surveillance.

Speed restrictions can be hard on the shipping industry, but Erica Fuller says that kind of sacrifice needs to be made to save the species.

“It may take slightly longer to get a product to port than it would in the absence of right whales. Well, we can't lose any more whales from getting hit by ships,” Fuller said.

And there’s one more question: with rising ocean temperatures, will right whales again chase their favorite food into new waters — perhaps into the path of even greater danger?

With a population just over 400, the answer could be the difference between survival and extinction.

This story originally appeared on WGBH. This is the second of a two-part report explaining how vessel strikes happen, why they’re increasing and what’s being done to stop them. Read part one here.

2019 on track for record number of Great Lakes drownings.
According to Great Lakes groups, there have been 51 drownings on the lakes so far this year, which is two more than at this time a year ago.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 1
This is interesting!