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The Aquilian

Help save the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

A North Atlantic Right Whale is tangled in fishing line off the coast of Crescent Beach, Florida. (Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research via Flickr)

By Jonathan Hofmann —

It was freezing cold, windy and raining off the coast of Husavik, a small town in Iceland, when I saw a whale break the surface of the water and clear his blowhole. From that moment on, I was intrigued by the whales and the history of them. While I was pursuing the internet last week, I saw a story on endangered whales on the East Coast and decided to take a look at it, remembering how amazing it was to see whales in person.

When thinking about Florida, a lot of different ideas may come to mind, but for environmentalists and some lucky boaters, they think of North Atlantic Right Whales. The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the largest animals in the world and is actually Florida’s most endangered mammal, and it is essential that they are protected.

Although these mammals have been protected since 1935, they still face various different challenges. These whales are known to live extremely long lives with slow reproductive rates. This not only poses a challenge for them, but it is detrimental to their population. Due to the fact that they have such slow reproductive rates, they struggle to recover.

The North Atlantic Right Whale faces serious challenges to survive. They often die after getting tangled in fishing lines or being struck by boats and noises that interrupt their communication. Although whaling does not affect the population anymore, it was detrimental to their population in the 1900s. 

The whole population of North Atlantic Right Whales was nearly wiped out by whaling until they began to be protected in 1935. There were only a few dozen Right Whales left at the time, but through protection efforts and certain laws they have been able to start to rebound. They reached a population of 481 in 2011 but recently have dropped to less than 400, with only 94 females who are able to reproduce. 

Adding to their struggles, Right Whales reproduce in Florida and migrate North towards New England where they face problems with lobster fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a rule that would reduce the number of vertical fishing lines off the coast of Portland, Maine, which would further help the Right Whale to survive. However, lobster fisheries believe that these rules are unfair and will put them out of business, but I believe that these fisheries can find other ways to capture lobsters.

Personally, I believe that this rule should be enacted because just recently a baby Right Whale calf was found dead, washed ashore on a Florida beach. The Right Whale’s population has been continuing to decline,  which is another reason to protect these whales, as they are so rare and a treasure to the ocean. 

Along with helping the Right Whale population, the law would also help with pollution in the ocean, which is a real problem that many people forget about. It would probably help to reduce the amount of fishing line that is floating around in the ocean and ultimately protect the Right Whale, in addition to many other sea creatures.

Many environmentalists argue that there needs to be much more done, but I believe that this is a great first step that is necessary to help bring back the population of North Atlantic Right Whales. If more people learn about these creatures and the dangers that they face, maybe one day we will be able to restore the population of Right Whales.

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    John AusemaMar 3, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Nice work Jonathan, thanks for sharing your research!