Whaling, beginning in the 1600s, killed thousands of North Atlantic right whales and their tendency to feed at the ocean’s surface within 50 miles of shore made them easy targets. They were hunted so persistently that, by some estimates, less than 100 right whales survived along the U.S. East Coast by the early 1900s. Today, hunting right whales is illegal; an international treaty signed in 1935 protects them. But they still face a suite of threats as they swim offshore. There, large ships navigating to ports strike the whales, often killing them. They find themselves entangled in ropes from fishing gear, which leave permanent scars and increase risk of infection. Toxic algae blooms, made worse by urban pollution, can poison calves or obscure the whales’ plankton food.
BUT there is hope for this endangered species. Amy Knowlton from the New England Aquarium talks about her successful work to slow ships down and move the whales out of harms way. Read more about the story here.
This video was made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Women's Committee. http://swc.si.edu/about-grants