🔴 The North Atlantic Right Whale is the most endangered whale specie, with fewer than 450 remaining 🔴
The Gulf of Maine is warming rapidly at one of the fastest rates on earth and the temperature change might be causing shifts along the food chain, said Dan Den Danto, station manager at Mount Desert Rock’s Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station.
As the whales follow food sources into new areas, Right whales are baleen whales, so they filter feed, supporting their 70-ton weight nearly as much as the Space Shuttle solely with microscopic animals called zooplankton. That search can push whales into shipping lanes, where the animals are sometimes struck, or into the gear of fishing boats❗
❌This past summer, the numbers of humpback whales identified from the rock were abysmal — the team saw only eight instead of the usual dozens. Fifty-three humpbacks have died in the last 19 months, many after colliding with boats or fishing gear.
Scientists worry that the humpbacks may have been forced elsewhere in a search for food as the seas grow rapidly warmer and their feeding grounds are disturbed.
🐟As food for our friendly giants is becoming less reliable and water temperature warmer, thus causing whales to migrate in different directions more often. Moving more hightens the risk of entanglements.
The North Atlantic right whales, which prefer colder waters, are also on a changed course with even more dire consequences. Fifteen of the animals have died since mid-April in a population that has now slipped to fewer than 450. “We haven’t seen this level of mortality in right whales since we stopped whaling them” in coastal New England in the 1700s, said Dr. Kraus.
Despite federal protection efforts, about 80 percent of right whales bear scars from past entanglements or ship strikes.
Cape Cod Bay, one of the first places that right whales were hunted eventually nearly to extinction is now a favourite hangout.. After routinely seeing up to 100 per winter field season, researchers have cataloged 200 to 300 most years since 2009, Dr. Mayo said.
Researchers are now trying to determine how plankton levels, temperature, currents, and salinity might affect the whales’ movements.