Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium
After an unprecedented year with 15 North Atlantic right whale deaths on record, more than 300 right whale researchers, policymakers, government officials, and industry members from across the United States and Canada gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, over the weekend for the annual meeting of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium (NARWC).
With scientists from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium presenting key talks, the conference updated the scientific community about the right whale population, the impacts of entanglement and vessel strikes, and the recent mortality crisis.
Every year, NARWC, led by Anderson Cabot Center researchers, releases its annual right whale “Report Card,” which provides updates on the status of the cataloged population, mortalities, and entanglement events. This year’s results were dire, with population estimates at only 451 right whales.
An unprecedented 15 North Atlantic right whale mortalities were documented in 2017, representing nearly 3% of the population. This, coupled with the decline in reproductive output by 40% since 2010, threatens the very survival of this species.
- NARWC Right Whale Report Card 2017
On October 23, the day after the NAWRC conference, scientists made a sad announcement: a dead right whale had washed up on the coast of Cape Cod, bringing the year’s death toll to 16
“Timely and effective efforts to reduce both entanglement and vessel strike mortalities must be a priority for both the U.S. and Canada if this species is to survive,” according to the annual report card.
In addition to updating the scientific community about the status of the population, this year’s meeting sought to assemble a small, international working group that can help develop and promote strategies to better protect right whales.
“With so few animals in the population, each one is important to the recovery of the species,” stated the GARFO announcement.
Scientists at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life are an integral part of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium. For more than 40 years, the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Team has been leading research and advocacy issues for the species. The team conducts vital work, including cataloging right whales in its extensive DIGITS database, tracking pregnancies and birth rates, investigating fishing gear adaptations to prevent entanglements, working to reroute shipping lanes to prevent deadly vessel strikes, and conducting groundbreaking stress hormone research in whales.
Together, we are working to ensure the long-term conservation and recovery of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.