Scientists have revealed that the decline of the population of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale slowed in 2021 to a 2% loss, but the species remains in danger of extinction. This whale’s population was 480 in 2010 and fell by more than 25% over the following decade. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium said on 24th October 2022 that the population fell to an estimated 340 last year. These whales have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act for more than 50 years, and their numbers were even lower in 1990 (264).
The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium started in 1986 as a collaborative data-sharing group that includes more than 200 individuals from various research and conservation organizations, shipping and fishing industries, technical experts, U.S. and Canadian government agencies, and state and provincial authorities.
The group concluded that the main threats these whales have are ship collisions and entanglement in commercial fishing gear, especially in the kind of fixed vertical underwater lines used to fish for lobsters and crabs. Warming oceans may also have been a factor, because this may have caused the plankton they feed on to move into unprotected areas where the whales are more vulnerable.
They have reproduced poorly in recent years, perhaps because the whales appear to be getting smaller, and that is hurting their ability to reproduce. Heather Pettis, the executive administrator of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, said to the Associate Press, “The reality is we are still seeing unsustainable levels of human impacts on the species… We’re still injuring these animals to a point where it’s not just about survival. It’s about health, it’s about reproduction.” “Sarah Sharp, a veterinarian with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said, “These latest population numbers confirm that the species continues to teeter on the verge of functional extinction, and current measures to save it are falling short.”