Ships Slow Down to Save a Rare Whale
“Thar she blows!” Captains have been told to pump the brakes on their massive cruisers southeast of New York City near New Jersey and just south of Long Island, due to unusual traffic of the rare Atlantic right whale. There are less than 350 of these massive creatures left in the world!
Right whales landed the protection of the Endangered Species Act as well as the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the 1970’s. They have been hunted down nearly to extinction in the 1890’s. Whalers called them the “right” whale to hunt because they were slow moving and floated after they were killed. They were mainly hunted down for their blubber, which, during that time, was critical for oil, soap and candles. Although they have avoided the harpoon since the mid-30’s, they, among other sea creatures, have other modern challenges that threaten their livelihood like getting entangled in commercial fishing gear and getting hit by boats. Unfortunately the right whale population continued to go down even after being placed into protection.
Whales have been victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to boat collisions which either leaves them injured or dead. Perplexed scientists suggest the animal is less likely to quickly flee at night while it rests or while feeding near the surface. Just think how many times you have been totally focused on something when suddenly someone taps you on the shoulder? But in this case it’s more like a car runs you over. The bottom line, captain has to slow down and keep an eye out of our largest mammals.
Good news though! Technology can help locate whales on the move! Companies like WhaleWatch locate “whale hot-spots” to help massive ships like cargo and cruisers avoid a collision. It generally predicts the potentiality of whales in the area by analyzing the water temperature, food and currents.
NOAA Scientists have the zone protected until the whales have fully passed by, and that looks to be until this Sunday, December 5th.
Food for Thought
If you’re thinking...hey! A whale is HUGE….what can a net in the ocean possibly do? What’s the big deal? Commercial fishing nets range from 300 feet and up to seven miles. They are called ghost nets when abandoned or lost by fishermen, and they kill thousands upon thousands of wildlife every year. It’s a huge big deal.
Hey! Can you name another mammal that has been threatened by boats? We’ll give you a hint. It’s the aquatic version of a cow. That’s right! The Sea Cow! Also called the sweet Manatee.
What replaced blubber which was then turned into oil for lanterns and heat? Petroleum! In the 1860’s the new modern way to light your gas lamp was with petrol. Its about time to upgrade from petrol...tick tock!