Science

Study Says Endangered Whales React to Environmental Changes

Some “canaries” are 50 ft long, weigh 70 tons, and are nowhere close to a coal mine. However, the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale is sending the identical sort of message about disruptive change within the surroundings by quickly altering its use of essential habitat areas of the New England coast. These findings are contained in new research revealed in Global Change Biology by scientists on the Center for Conservation Bioacoustics (previously the Bioacoustics Research Program) on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and at Syracuse University. It is the longest operating printed research to continuously monitor the presence of any whale species at one location utilizing sound.”

Charif points out that, beginning in 2011, different research began documenting dramatic changes in habitat use by right whales in different components of the Gulf of Maine, which also includes Cape Cod Bay and Massachusetts Bay and it is also the gateway to Cape Cod Bay, one of the vital necessary feeding areas for North Atlantic proper whales, who congregate there in large numbers in late winter to early spring.

The scientists discovered proper whales have been current to various levels all year round in Massachusetts Bay, with implications for conservation efforts.

Entanglements and ship strikes stay the most important threats to proper whales with unknown cumulative results from altering water temperatures, rising ocean noise pollution, and different stressors. The increasing use of Massachusetts Bay occurred at the same time as the general proper whale inhabitants declined. The latest estimates peg the population at about 400 animals, with only 95 of the females of reproductive age.

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