As per the latest reports, the lives of rare North Atlantic right whales are in danger. The US officials have warned that if immediate steps are not taken to protect these right whale species, then they will soon become extinct. As per the estimations made by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 17 North Atlantic right whales have died over the past 12 months, thus reducing their total presence to a mere 450. This indicates how devastating this 2017 year has been for those rare right whale species. Scientists have raised concerns over the dwindling right whale population and have said that if immediate action is not taken to protect these whales from further harm, then we might see them get extinct in front of our eyes soon.
Till now scientists have not been able to figure out the exact reason behind the declining right whale populations. But many of them are citing accidents with boats and getting tangled up in fishing nets or other gear as the main reason for deaths of right whales. Also, 2017 has been a discouraging year for those rare North Atlantic right whales as far as reproduction is concerned. As per the reports, there are just around 100 breeding females left, and the main problem is that they are dying off faster than their male counterparts.
Showing concern about the alarming decrease in right whale population, John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries said, “You do have to use the extinction word because that’s where the trend lines say. That’s something we can’t let happen. This indicates that scientists are not taking this extinction danger of right whales lightly and want everybody to be serious about the right whale population protection.
According to the scientists, it will be challenging for them to rebuild population numbers through reproduction because the breeding process of females is very slow. Females spend a year pregnant with calves, and then they spend another year weaning them. Scientists say that in recent years, the North Atlantic right whales are moving a lot and are forced to come out from their protected areas more frequently in search of food. This makes them more vulnerable to accidents with boats and getting tangled up in nets.
Another recent report revealed that the hormone levels of those rare whale species have reached sky-high due to the severe stress that they feel when they get tangled up in fishing gear. This high increase in stress hormone might affect the reproducing capability of the whales. So, it is important that a detailed study should be done to know the impacts of commercial fishing on whales and ways to save those rare right whales from getting frequently entangled in nets. Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant with the NOAA said that the current status of the right whales is a critical situation, and using the best available resources to recover right whales is of high importance and high urgency.