URGENT: Critically Endangered Right Whales Slammed to Death by Boats

URGENT: Critically Endangered Right Whales Slammed to Death by Boats

This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

With fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales left in existence, we need to take every measure we can to save them from extinction and support their recovery. Urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement a change to current vessel speed rules and adopt additional measures that would protect them from one of the deadliest threats they currently face: ship strikes.

The most common threats to these beautiful and critically endangered whales are boat collisions and entanglement in fishing gear. Sadly, human-caused deaths are so frequent that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries declared an ongoing “unusual mortality event” in 2017. There are so few of these whales that for every one of them left on Earth, there are 22,857,143 of us humans. That's a serious imbalance, especially when you consider that Earth is roughly 70% water on its surface. The most vulnerable to boat collision deaths are mother whales with their calves. Recently, a whale known as Infinity and her calf were struck off the coast of Florida by a sportfishing yacht. Infinity suffered painful injuries and her calf sadly passed away.

In Defense of Animals

The current proposed amendment aims to reduce the speed of boats seasonally during times of peak whale activity and expand both the boundaries and the boat size that this rule applies to. The proposed rule would create new seasonal speed zones, approximately doubling the area where speed restrictions are applied, and apply the rule limiting speed to 10 knots in these areas to most vessels that are 35 feet in length or longer. The existing rule only applies to vessels 65 feet or longer. While smaller vessels are encouraged to slow down, it's voluntary and NOAA acknowledges there isn't a lot of cooperation.

Among the proposed changes is also the creation of a mandatory dynamic speed zone that will require boats to travel 10 knots or less where (NOAA) Fisheries identifies three or more right whales outside seasonal zones. These zones last for a period of 15 days.

The proposed amendments to the vessel speed rule are a huge step in the right direction, but we would like to encourage NOAA Fisheries to take additional measures to protect right whales.

First, the dynamic management areas should be implemented when a minimum of one right whale is detected, not three, which would include vulnerable mother-calf pairs.

Second, the seasonal speed zone should be expanded to the New Hampshire border to protect whales in a wider range.

Third, military vessels and federally owned and operated vessels should not be exempted from this rule.

Finally, the rule should also establish year-long protections for right whales along New England where boat traffic is particularly high and right whales are known to be present year-round.

North Atlantic right whale populations are dwindling due to human causes, but by taking the proper measures, we can save them from the brink of extinction.


What YOU Can Do — TODAY:



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