Large Whale Mortality Has More to Do with Human Activity Than Natural Causes

Fishing gear is responsible for killing most of these marine mammals

It has been quite a while since marine researchers Julie van der Hoop and Michael Moore from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, first decided to investigate how often it is that human activities need be held responsible for the death of large whales.

The species their study first and foremost targeted were right whales, humpback whales and fin whales. However, several other species were also given due attention. The period of time taken into consideration for this study was that between the years 1970 and 2007.

Apparently, within the aforementioned time frame, as many as 122 right whales, 473 humpbacks and 257 fin whales were found dead, and 67% of these deaths had something to do with various human activities.

It comes as no surprise that, more often than not, the whales that died not because of natural causes, but because of humans' interfering with their daily routine, simply got caught up in fishing gear and ended up drowning.

On other occasions, the whales were simply injured as a result of vessel strikes.

As the researchers behind this study explain, it may very well be that efforts are constantly being made to protect our planet's marine mammals, yet this does not change the fact that the overall results of these conservation projects are slightly “disappointing.”

However, this does not mean that progress has not been made on a local scale. The matter now in hand is to see to it that international policies help large whales as much as local conservation projects do.

In case anyone was wondering, right whales are presently some of the world's most endangered marine mammals, and it is believed that only about 460 presently inhabit the eastern coast of Canada and the United States.

Hopefully, new legislation focusing on whale conservation will help bring forth good news on this topic.

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