The Hazards Facing Right Whales
Right whales have been called “the urban whale” because their migratory routes – from the winter calving grounds off the coast of Georgia and Northeastern Florida, to their summer feeding grounds in New England and north to the Canadian Maritimes – expose them to some of the most heavily navigated waters in the world. They are also known to swim in water right off shore – making dangerous, often fatal interactions with human activity very likely.
“While many large whale populations are increasing in the United States, entanglements in fishing gear or marine debris represent a growing threat to the further recovery of these species. Severe entanglements can kill or seriously injure large whales, and entanglements involving threatened or endangered species can have significant negative impacts to the population as a whole.”
Collisions may occur anywhere vessels cross paths with marine life. Marine animals can be difficult for a vessel operator to see because they are not always clearly visible from the surface. And even if the operator spots the animal, there may be no time for either of them to avoid a collision. Endangered North Atlantic right whales are especially vulnerable to vessel strikes because their habitat and migration routes are close to major ports and often overlap with shipping lanes. NOAA Fisheries works with mariners to reduce ship strikes to right whales along the Atlantic seaboard.
Seismic testing involves blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns (a kind of powerful horn) every 10 seconds and measuring the echoes with long tubes to map offshore oil and gas reserves — in the process disturbing, injuring and killing marine mammals and other wildlife around the clock for years on end.