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Whales losing deadly battle to ships, fishing in Canada: Why


Digital writers
theweathernetwork.com

Thursday, October 5, 2017, 12:07 PM - Two pathologists presented findings from necropsies performed this summer on six North Atlantic right whales, which were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Researchers confirmed that one of the right whales died from 'chronic entanglement' in crab fishing gear, while another four died due to 'severe trauma of the blunt force nature'. The cause of death for the remaining right whale could not be determined, due to the advanced decomposition of the carcass.

The findings were presented by Pierre-Yves Daoust, a pathologist and professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), and Émilie L. Couture, a veterinarian with the Zoo de Granby and the University of Montreal.

During the live press conference, the two stated that the four whales who died due to blunt force trauma were most certainly involved in collisions with ships. Which ships, on which routes, is still unknown, but their necropsies provided definitive evidence that the blunt force trauma was the cause of their death, rather than it occurring at some point after they died and were floating free.

According to their report, while cause of death for the last of the six whales could not be determined, definitively, some evidence does suggest blunt trauma. Also, another necrospy has been performed on a seventh right whale, brought to shore in Miscou, NB on Sept 19, 2017, but those results are not yet available.

Read the entire report here.

Sigrid Kuehnemund, WWF-Canada's lead oceans specialist, said the necropsy results confirmed that right whales have been dying due to human impacts.

"If this population of right whales is going to be able to rebuild and thrive again, we need immediate action to address the two main causes of death: ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear," Kuehnemund said. "Preventative measures are needed for next season and for the long term. We also need more research to understand why the right whales are in places they haven’t been before."

Kuehnemund said creating marine protected areas could also be part of the solution, providing a safe space for whale populations to recover.

These findings are the latest in the summer-long story of the 15 known whale deaths, 12 of which died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The frequency of the deaths prompted Transport Canada to introduce a mandatory 10-knot speed limit for large vessels in the Gulf as a deterrent.

The North Atlantic right whale is an endangered and protected species, with the latest numbers on the species determined to be 458.

WATCH BELOW: Scientists learn cause behind sudden right whales deaths this summer



Source: Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) | With files from The Weather Network

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