North American whales face potential extinction as warming oceans force them into unsafe territory
By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer
April 16, 2018, 8:41:33 AM EDT
Share this article:
Warm waters have pushed certain kinds of whales into unstable habitats, leading to a steep decline in births, a new study found.
North Atlantic whales are facing extinction, experts say, after observing no sign of newborns in the past year.
As the ocean water temperatures have risen, depleting their food supply, the whales have been migrating to cooler waters where new hazards and "nutritional stress" are taking a toll on their population size, a March study out of Cornell University said.
Whales are now venturing farther north into cooler Canadian waters where food is more plentiful, but where boats and fishing gear have proved dangerous.
“The fishing gear has not been specially designed to break away when whales are entangled, and there are no acoustic monitoring programs in place to force ships to slow down when whales are present,” said Charles Greene, professor of oceanography at Cornell University.
Researchers said 17 right whales died last year, totaling more than 3.5 percent of the population. Right whales refer to three types of Eubalaena whales - the North Atlantic right whale, North Pacific right whale and the Southern right whale.
“Most of the dead whales that have been examined have exhibited evidence of the blunt trauma associated with ship strikes," Greene said.
Non-profit organizations, citizen activists mobilize in face of Puerto Rico's waste crisis
How rising SUV popularity globally, EPA auto emission rollbacks could hurt efforts to fight climate change
Unchecked carbon emissions could jeopardize plants, animals in world's most vital habitats
Right whales eat Calanus finmarchicus, a species of copepods as their main form of nutrition. Scientists have tracked whale reproduction rates in correlation with the amount of available C. finmarchicus. Whale reproduction can vary greatly, Greene said, depending on the abundance of the copepods.
Recently, the researchers grew concerned with the spread of C. finmarchicus away from the Gulf of Maine as water temperatures rose, bringing the whales with them.
These northern waters are not safe for the whales, and the added "nutritional stress" has likely led to the decline in new calves.
"This elevated mortality in the population paints a bleak picture for this highly endangered species’ future,” he said.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 7:08:00 AM EST
One person is dead and dozens injured after a landslide derailed a commuter train traveling toward Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday.
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 5:50:47 AM EST
Beginning at midweek and continuing through Black Friday, a series of storm systems will bring sweeping changes to the recent weather pattern that has been locked in across California.
The busiest travel week of the year also falls during a volatile time for extreme weather.
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 8:13:44 AM EST
People that fled their homes to escape the Camp Fire are on the move again before a storm delivers drenching rain to California.
Weather News - November 19, 2018, 4:16:58 PM EST
For the third straight year, the American Farm Bureau Federation found the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner to have declined in total price from the previous year's holiday.
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 6:11:21 AM EST
The coldest air so far this season will sweep across northern Europe during the first half of this week, bringing the potential for snow to some communities.
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 7:33:07 AM EST
Despite not becoming a cyclone, a storm is still expected to threaten southern India with flooding rain through Thursday.
Black Friday forecast: Storms to drench Deep South; Shoppers to encounter chilly weather in Northeast
Weather News - November 20, 2018, 8:04:51 AM EST
The holiday shopping season officially begins on Black Friday, and for many Americans planning a long day of bargain hunting, the weather should not impede their trips to the stores.