6 Deaths Bring Right Whales Closer To Extinction

Jun 28, 2019

Six endangered North Atlantic right whales have died in June, four of them this week. This brings Georgia's state marine mammal even closer to extinction.

Researchers estimate that just 411 North Atlantic right whales remain, so six of them dying is significant.

Every winter, the whales migrate to coastal Georgia and Florida to give birth.

Veterinarian Sarah Sharp of the International Fund for Animal Welfare says three of the dead whales were females old enough to have babies.

"This is devastating for these animals, and really reduces the potential that this population can recover," she said.

Sharp is the lead author of a recent study of right whale deaths between 2003 and 2018. In the cases where the cause of death could be determined, nearly 90% were caused by humans.

Those whales died after getting tangled in fishing lines or struck by ships.

Sharp said without changes to regulations for fishing and shipping, the whales will likely go extinct "within probably the next few decades."