As extinction looms over Right Whales, preservation movement in search of ideas to keep up hope

Published: 03rd April 2018 06:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2018 06:48 PM  

Right whales are one of the rarest marine mammals in the world, numbering about 450. The 100,000-pound animals have been even closer to the brink of extinction before, and the effort to save them galvanized one of the most visible wildlife conservation movements in U.S. history. (Photo | AP)
They are dying from collisions with ships and entanglements in commercial fishing gear, and the species might not survive. (Photo | AP)
As the threat of extinction within a generation looms, and the movement to preserve the whales is trying to come up with new solutions. (Photo | AP)
The population is falling again because of poor reproduction coupled with high mortality from ship strikes and entanglement. Scientists, environmentalists, whale watch captains and animal lovers of all stripes are rallying to renew interest in saving right whales, but many admit to feeling close to defeated. (Photo | AP)
The decline of right whales dates back to the whaling era of centuries ago, when they were targeted as the 'right' whale to hunt because they were slow and floated when killed. They were harvested for their oil and meat, and might have dwindled to double digits until international protections took hold in 1935. (Photo | AP)
Conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit this year accusing the National Marine Fisheries Service of not doing enough to protect right whales from fishing gear. (Photo | AP)
Still, advocates see some reasons to be optimistic. Canada recently announced moves to protect the whales by changing the dates of the snow crab season and establishing a permanent speed limit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. And this winter, scientists observed a behavior called a 'surface active group' for the first time in a year. The whales gather at the surface for males to competeto mate with a female, which scientists hope augurs for a baby whale in the future. (Photo | AP)
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