The critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population continues to decline, with the estimated number of whales at its lowest level in nearly 20 years.
The US-based North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, an association of nearly 40 organizations, says the population dropped to 336 in 2020, an eight percent decline from 2019, when the population was estimated at 366. animals.
The consortium says the whale population has been on a downward trajectory since 2011, when there were 481 whales.
He says that in the past 10 years the species, which spends summers in Canadian waters, has declined by 30 percent.
The consortium says that human impacts, specifically entanglements in stationary fishing gear and boat strikes, remain the greatest threats to the survival of the right whale.
Estimates place the number of breeding females at less than 100 animals.
“There is no doubt that human activities are driving this species toward extinction,” Dr. Scott Kraus, president of the consortium, said in a press release on Monday. “No one at right whale work believes that the species cannot recover from this. They absolutely can, if we stop killing them and allow them to put energy into finding food, mates and habitats that are not marred by deadly obstacles.”
The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium was co-founded in 1986 by the New England Aquarium and partners from the University of Rhode Island, the Center for Coastal Studies, Florida Marineland, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The consortium says it serves as a means for right whale researchers to collaborate and share data in order to understand and protect the species.
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 25, 2021.