Endangered Right Whale Adds to Its Dwindling Population
When we filed suit to challenge a proposed Naval training range in waters off the coast of Florida it was to ensure the future of the critically endangered right whale. The area is smack dab in the only known calving grounds for right whales – only about 400 remain in existence today. And get this: Over the weekend scientists conducting aerial surveys observed a right whale calf being born off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. This is huge for the scarce right whale population and drums the point we’ve been trying to make: to build a training range where whales and their calves are in harm’s way would be negligent and immoral. The National Marine Fisheries Service has said: the loss of even a single individual right whale may contribute to the extinction of the species.
Years ago right whales nearly went extinct due to overhunting but although they’re no longer hunted right whales are still victims of human activity. Because their calving grounds and habitat stretch through some of the busiest shipping channels and fishing spots in the world, right whales are often struck by passing ships or become entangled in fishing gear. And now, despite the obvious threat facing right whales and their potential extinction, the U.S. Navy is planning to construct a 660-square mile undersea warfare training range.
This birth is a rare look at a species which has been listed as endangered since 1973 but remains at risk of extinction due to shipping and fishing operations within their habitat. The training range would be a surefire threat to an already imperiled animal. But with our legal challenge – we’re working so that won’t happen.
Photos of the birth:
Photo of a pregnant right whale - NOAA scientific permit no. 948-1692
Photo of a just-born right whale calf - NOAA scientific permit no. 948-1692
Photo of a right whale calf swimming above its mother - NOAA scientific permit no. 948-1692