Death of a species

The discovery of yet another dead endangered North Atlantic right whale off Nantucket, MA brings the loss to a total of 17 dead since April, a devastating blow to the species during a year when only five calves were born.  

While 12 of the deaths occurred in Canadian waters between June and September, this latest mortality is the fifth known to occur in US waters off the coast of Cape Cod.  

Recently published research confirms that the species has been in decline since 2010 as a result of human impacts.  With fewer than 450 remaining, researchers estimate certain extinction within 23 years unless threats to the species are drastically reduced. 

Right whales were once driven to near extinction due to commercial whaling and now once again face extinction as a result of vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing gear.  

Ironically, human impacts on North Atlantic right whales ultimately impact our own survival as research indicates that whales play a significant role in global ecosystems. Whales transport nutrients to surface waters where they sustain phytoplankton, a tiny floating ocean plant. Phytoplankton provide up to half the earth’s oxygen, sequesters carbon thereby fighting climate change, and sustains fish stocks. 

North Atlantic right whale
North Atlantic right whale

According to Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDC-NA executive director, “It’s pretty clear that if we do nothing we have condemned a species, on which we depend, to extinction… ultimately dooming our own existence.” 

What WDC is doing:

  • WDC and its conservation partners are seeking action by the governments of the US and Canada to fulfil their obligations under the US Endangered Species Act and the Canadian Species At Risk Act.
  • As a federally appointed member of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, WDC is continuing its collaborative work to devise measures that reduce the risk of entanglements. 
  • And in response to the recent deaths of right whales in Canada, WDC has formally requested that the MSC certification of the Canadian snow crab fishery be withdrawn until the fishery operates in a way that does not jeopardize the continued survival of right whales.

Since its incorporation in 2005, WDC’s North American office has implemented a program specifically dedicated to the continued survival of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, a project which the Patagonia Outdoor Clothing and Gear company has helped to support since 2010.

Help us save this species - donate today

Comments

I attended the media conference via phone.

Sadly, Wolbachia was not tested for; nor the presence of encephalitis viruses (West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, or Zika ).

Only two dead whales (out of 15) could be solidly said to die from entanglement.

The only evidence for blunt trauma was "severe internal bleeding" which could have multiple causes (including infections, transport, or possibly interference with these carcasses).

I suppose it will take more vertebrate species to suffer or become extinct before Wolbachia (a reproductive parasite) will even be considered.

Five independent research teams have determined Culex can be Zika vectors. This study received no press:

Zika Virus in Salivary Glands of Five Different Species of Wild-Caught Mosquitoes from Mexico: http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/06/19/151951

And, it appears Wolbachia IS infecting vertebrates now, including humans:

"Wolbachia spp. should be further evaluated as causes of human infection, especially as Wolbachia infection of mosquitoes is increasingly considered to be a tool for interfering with mosquito-borne transmission of human pathogens" (Chen, Dong, et al., 2015).

NOTE: Filariodea coxI gene was not found in this case (which points to direct mosquito-to-human transmission). Source: http://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(14)00040-8/fulltext

I suspect BIG money is behind this decision since those funding the Wolbachia-infected Aedes releases are billionaires.

The study assessing the safety of Wolbachia-infected Aedes releases clearly states:

"The different samples collected were meant to represent a full variety of species or "environment" in which Wolbachia could have disseminated. Samples comprised soil samples, plant leaves and roots, earthworms and millipedes, all collected from inside the enclosure." Source: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0074-02762010000...

Shocking (to me) is they did not test: birds, bats, Culex mosquitoes, planktivorous fish and other aquatic species.

Our latest petition update (with over 700 supporters): https://www.change.org/p/investigate-north-atlantic-right-whale-deaths-w...

This is very disheartening to read. When are we, as humans, going to realize that we are destroying our planet and that we need to all make changes? I will share this article with everyone I know.
Randy
https://www.mightygreen.com

We need to make sure that we as humans take care of these precious animals. They are beautiful and need to be treated as such. When will we learn?

http://www.lsplumber.com

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