To protect right whales, some areas along the coast, such as Cape Cod Bay, have since 2015 been closed to lobster fishing between February and May, when large numbers of them feed in those waters.
Because scientists have determined that the human impact on right whales needs to be limited to less than one fatality a year if the species is to avoid extinction, regulators have been unwilling to open closed areas to fishermen, even those using ropeless technology.
Lonati’s methodology involves looking for whales, then hovering the university’s dual-gimbal DJI Matrice 210 V2 drone over a whale when it surfaces, capturing high-resolution images using an RGB camera at 20m above the ocean surface, then descending to 10m to capture a reading of the whale’s internal body temperature via its blowhole using an infrared camera. It is worth noting that drones have been deployed by researchers before to gather information about whales.
Most of the 360 or so North Atlantic right whales alive today bear scars from entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with speeding ships and, according to new study, they are much smaller than they should be. According to the authors of the new study, the best way to ensure the continued survival of the species is to pressure fishery managers in the United States and Canada to significantly reduce the amount of rope-based fishing gear and implement ship speed limits in the North Atlantic. “We all consume goods moved by the sea, and many eat lobsters,” said Michael Moore, a senior scientist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-author of the study. “If we all were to demand these management changes of our elected officials the situation would change drastically.”
Researchers spotted the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales on a recent trip to Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts.
One of the few things rarer than North Atlantic right whales? Capturing a whale ‘hug’ on video. Scientists have done that for what might have been the first time from the air.
Also, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Slocum underwater glider on Sunday acoustically detected the presence of North Atlantic right whales north of Cape Cod and NOAA Fisheries on Monday instituted a voluntary right whale slow zone north of Cape Cod until May 17.
“Right whales are beautifully equipped for drone work in terms of identification,” he said. “They wear their identity on their heads in the form of callosities,” which are massive calluses that are unique to each individual whale. “So every time we take a photograph, we know who it is.”
The whales are nearing the end of a three-month period during which nearly half the population of approximately 360 can be spotted in Cape Cod Bay.
Virtual buoys and time triggered traps reduce risk to endangered North Atlantic right whale, but reactions among fishers in US and Canada are mixed.
The technology is a miniaturized version of a system originally designed to protect whales from underwater noises.
“North Atlantic right whales face a serious risk of extinction, but there is hope if we can work together on solutions. Trauma reduction measures and applying new tools to assess their health are critically important to enhance the welfare of individual whales. If we can reduce the number of deaths, and successfully improve their health (and increase their) reproduction, the current decline in population can be reversed,” says lead study author Michael Moore, a whale trauma specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The whales are North Atlantic right whales, which number only about 360 in the world.
Scientist hopes his smart system can reduce ship collisions with North Atlantic right whales. A new technology on the horizon may help to reduce one of those threats, however.
Moving to ropeless fishing would have “a far more lasting impact in reducing mortality, and equally importantly, the health and hence reproductive success of live animals,” said Michael Moore, director of the Marine Mammal Center at WHOI.
As the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales begin their southward migration from New England and Canada toward the coast of Florida, including Volusia and Flagler counties, researchers are marking the beginning of calving season with uncertainty and urgency.
A major study looking into the deaths of North Atlantic right whales has found that entanglement in fishing gear has become a leading cause of mortality.
In May 2019, the United Nations released a report that said 1 million species on Earth were facing extinction, and that the rate of extinction was accelerating. Boston Globe reporter David Abel said it led him to make the film “Entangled” about the path to extinction for one species people on the Cape know well.
A research group says the rise in the number of fishing-gear entanglements of North American right whales is hurting the animals’ ability to reproduce and care for their young.