Since the 1980s, North Atlantic right whales have been shorter by an average of one meter. This species, of which only 400 remain, suffers greatly from changes in the environment, especially related to human activities. Fishing facilities, such as nets or lines, present as many traps as these whales become entangled, sometimes over long months. According to a study published in Current biology, these accidents are strongly correlated with slow growth.
Expensive accidents for whales
RESEARCH. Find more on the website Research article “Whales are shrinking due to human activity”, Edwyn Guérineau.
Complication is especially dangerous for marine mammals. If they are not killed, these episodes can cause injury or force them to move, impeding their penetration into the water. This makes it difficult to feed the whales while consuming more energy. This has consequences for the growth of individuals, primarily in calves or mothers who are breastfeeding their child.
Threat to the survival of the species
Faced with this situation, biologists are calling for measures to reduce human pressure on large whales. Reducing the speed of ships or making less resistant materials would be the first step in preserving an already declining population. Researchers are also concerned that this reduction in North Atlantic right whales creates a vicious circle. Smaller whales would find it harder to breed and take care of their offspring, which would further threaten the maintenance of the species.
Written by Edwyn Guérineau