Three endangered North Atlantic right whales found entangled in ropes

08 Juillet, 2019, 15:21 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • More knowledge on the behaviour of the whales can also lead to better protection

The final whale was sighted by a researcher working at sea under a Species at Risk Act permit, according to the department.

In a news release, the department said two whales were spotted on Thursday. No deaths were recorded previous year in Canadian waters, but 12 right whales were found dead in 2017, mainly from ship strikes and entanglements.

The federal scientific review confirmed an increased presence of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 2015, with the highest concentrations in warmer months.

There are more than 400 of these whales at the moment on the list of endangered species. Only about 400 whales remain on the planet and none of them are known to have procreated previous year.

For example, more than 70 percent of ME waters - where most of the fishing in the Gulf of ME occurs - are exempt from federal regulations to protect right whales from entanglements.

No deaths were recorded previous year in Canadian waters, but 12 right whales were found dead in 2017, mainly from ship strikes and entanglements. Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots for vessels 20 metres or longer were enacted again last year and have been in place this year since April 28.

Correct launch air these scurry-restricted zones, nonetheless, the hazard of lethal strikes turned enormously bigger, the review says.

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The Canadian government has taken a series of steps to support the whales including limiting how close vessels can travel near them and cutting chinook salmon fisheries in an effort to increase the supply of the whales' favourite food.

The scientists also raised a concern about the size of the slow-down zone being reduced in 2018 in an area north of Anticosti Island, an especially risky area for vessel strikes. Fishing restrictions imposed in some of the areas where the whales have been most prevalent have helped, but whales continue to become entangled - mainly in snow crab gear. There had been at the least two entanglements in 2016, seven in 2017 and at the least three in 2018.

The areas these three whales were spotted in have already been closed to fishing, and aerial and at-sea surveillance is taking place to monitor the whales and get a better idea of their situations.

However, scientists have found the whales have moved out of these critical habitats, with more now congregating in the gulf.

When asked if he would respond to this shift by designating areas within the gulf as critical habitats, Wilkinson said the changing behaviours of the whales calls for a more dynamic approach.

The deaths are especially troubling because they include females, said Philip Hamilton, research scientist with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium.

Surveillance and detection efforts luxuriate in increased since 2017 - including by listening for whale calls, aerial surveys and boat-based visible observations. But all of these methods have challenges in accuracy due to often challenging weather conditions and ambient noise.

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