Two more critically endangered North Atlantic right whales were confirmed dead in Canadian waters yesterday, bringing the death toll to four for 2019. While it is unclear what the cause of death for these four animals is, the two leading causes of deaths for North Atlantic right whales continues to be ship strikes and entanglement with fishing gear.
Since the spring of 2017, a total of 20 right whales have died in the U.S. and Canada. In the same time period, only seven new calves were born to the population. This tragic situation prompted the U.S. government to declare the deaths an “Unusual Mortality Event,” which directs additional resources to the species. The Humane Society of the United States serves on the federal recovery team for North Atlantic right whales and last year brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to force the government to take additional actions to save this declining species.
“With less than 420 individuals remaining, any loss is tragic for this species teetering on the brink of extinction,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “The federal government needs to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent their entanglement in fishing gear and to limit the risk of deaths by ship strike. We cannot simply stand by as these remarkable animals disappear from Planet Earth.”
“There is no time to waste in our quest to save these magnificent creatures. We must pass the SAVE Right Whales Act (H.R. 1568), introduced by Rep. Seth Moulton, to support research determining how to minimize conflicts and save whale lives,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “As a start, we applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for approving an appropriations package that would increase funding for research and monitoring of these critically endangered whales and urge the U.S. Senate to follow their lead.”