The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whale species on the planet, with just over 500 individuals left. Over the past two months, eight whales have been found dead off the Canadian coastline, with the latest being found on July 20th. The whales have all been found in the same area in eastern Canada, between New Brunswick’s Miscou Island, Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and northern P.E.I.
To lose eight individuals is devastating for this species, the loss makes up just over one percent of their entire population, at the moment it is not clear what killed the whales, although two were said to have signs of blunt trauma (likely from a ship) and another had been tangled in fishing gear for weeks. North Atlantic right whales are at huge risk from ship strikes and entanglement. The areas in which the whales are found, are often along busy shipping lanes (such as the Gulf of St Lawrence, where the eight have been found dead). Entanglement impacts marine mammals around the world, and researchers have spotted a number of right whales that have become entangled recently. In fact just last week Joe Howlett a Canadian fisherman, died after freeing a right whale from entanglement off the Canadian coast.
North Atlantic right whales are found in both Canadian and USA waters and authorities and researchers on both sides of the border are scrambling to save the population, 2017 calf sightings have been low and it looks as though it will be a year of decline for the North Atlantic right whale.