Humpback Whales Slowly Becoming Endangered?

Aneesia Dejurnett, Staff Writer

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Humpback whales have been dying at an unusual rate on the East Coast. 41 have already been found beached on the shores ranging from Maine to North Carolina from 2016 to this year which is more than average. The last record of an unusual mortality event dealing with humpback whales was in 2006. Scientists have started to look into this to see why it’s happening.

“Since 2000, the number of humpback deaths in the Atlantic region has averaged 15 per year,” a spokesperson for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jennifer Goebel, stated. Not all of these were caused by humans so there was a great increase in the whales beaching themselves. Goebel said that “There may be changes in prey distribution that may be affecting where the whales are, and that may be contributing to a change in the whales’ distribution.”

There have been no signs of noise or a disease being an issue but signs of force trauma have been seen on the whales. This could have been due to the vessels reported from the states where the whales were being beached.“There probably hasn’t been a spike in vessel traffic in these areas, but the difficulty is that the animals move around. I think we’ll find that it’s linked to prey sources. Humpback whales follow prey and they may sometimes lead them close to shipping routes.” The NOAA’s coordinator of recovery activity, Greg Silber, said.

The cause of the increasing rate of death among the humpback whales is still unknown, but U.S. scientists and the people of NOAA are working on finding an answer.

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Humpback Whales Slowly Becoming Endangered?