Just last week, an aerial survey team from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium spotted a North Atlantic right whale mother and her newly born calf off the coast of Lea-Hutaff Island here in North Carolina, in Pender County near the New Hanover County line.
This is a big deal, folks. There are only around 360 of these gentle giants remaining in the world, and they could go extinct in our lifetimes. As these mother whales have their calves off the southeast Atlantic coast, they are simultaneously being decimated by collisions with vessels and entanglements in fishing gear.
Even a single human-caused death in a year threatens this species’ changes of survival, which is why we all must give them their space. Federal law requires vessels, paddle boarders, aircrafts, and even drones to stay at least 500 yards away from North Atlantic right whales. This restriction helps to reduce the risk of disruptions to or collisions between the whales and boats, but it is not enough.
We must do more for these rare whales, like requiring vessels to slow down and reducing the amount of fishing gear in their habitats. If we fail, this will be the first large whale species go extinct in the Atlantic Ocean for centuries, and it will have been on our watch.
We are better than this. The government has the ability and the responsibility to strengthen protections for North Atlantic right whales and prevent their extinction.
North Carolina, join me in demanding our government to take action before it’s too late. Visit oceana.org/RightWhaleToSave to learn more.
Randy Sturgill, Senior Campaign Organizer, Oceana