North Atlantic Right Whales in Crisis
A recent cluster of North Atlantic right whale deaths has now brought the threat of extinction facing this species even more sharply into focus, according to the "Policy Forum" in the 22 July 2005 issue of the journal Science.
These whales, numbering approximately 350 animals all together, are some of the most endangered in the world. The growth rate of this population has declined since 1980, and the decline now seems to be accelerating in spite of efforts to reduce deaths caused by humans and recent increases in calving, according to Scott Kraus and colleagues.
Many right whale mortalities are due to collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear. The authors say that emergency measures to reduce these mortalities should be implemented immediately. Delaying such efforts would be ignoring both scientific and legal mandates and could consign North Atlantic right whales to extinction, according to the authors.
22 July 2005