Environment & Biodiversity

North Atlantic Right Whales: Threats and Conservation Implications

  • North Atlantic right whales face a serious threat from entanglement in fishing gear, adding to their critically endangered state.
  • Entanglement causes not only physical suffering, but also reduces reproductive success, accelerating the species’ decline. 

The Impact of Entanglement

  • Entanglement in fishing gear causes energy consumption, decreased feeding efficiency, and physical injury, compromising whales’ capacity to reproduce and survive. Even slight entanglements have severe effects on female right whales.
  • Reproductive Implications: Females who experience entanglement episodes, even those categorised as “minor,” have lower breeding rates, which may have long-term implications for population recovery. Poor health and physical fitness also hamper breeding success.

About Right Whales

  • The Balaenidae family includes right whales, which are enormous baleen whales.
  • Right whales are classified into three species: the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), and Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis).
  • They are distinguished by their geographic distribution and minor variances in physical traits.
  • Right whales live in temperate and subpolar waters throughout the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere.
  • They are frequently seen in coastal locations during their feeding and breeding seasons, but they can traverse considerable distances.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists all three right whale species as endangered or severely endangered. 

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