Every fall Georgia and Florida welcomes critically endangered North Atlantic right whales into our southern coast to give birth. With less than 500 remaining, the species is facing extinction due to vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration numbers, 16 right whale deaths have been reported this year which is an unusually high mortality rate.
When right whales are entangled, many manage to free themselves. But others drag gear for months —sometimes for years. There’s some evidence that female right whales, if they’ve been entangled, are weakened and have a diminished capacity to reproduce. That may help explain the current low calving rate. But we can’t get to every animal, and it’s not easy to cut the ropes off.
Right whales, alive and dead, are tracked from research ships as well as by planes with the help of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Whales are also tracked using a listening device attached to an autonomous underwater glider that listens for the distinct call of right whales.
Sea to Shore Alliance conducts aerial flights over the whale’s calving habitat to locate whales and alert mariners of their presence so vessels can avoid hitting them and help any injured or entangled whale
About Sea to Shore Alliance:
Sea to Shore Alliance works to protect and conserve our world’s fragile coastal ecosystems and the endangered species that call them home. We focus on the conservation of flagship species, such as manatees, sea turtles, and right whales, to ensure greater protection for the species themselves and for the sensitive habitats these animals rely on around the world. Sea to Shore Alliance biologists and ecologists combine passion for their work with technical expertise to conduct rigorous scientific research, share their knowledge with managers to ensure adequate protection for endangered species, educate the public and conserve our coastal environments for the benefit of both people and animals.