Environment

Baby whale boom as mammals give birth to calves in rising numbers

Newborn calves found swimming in USA

If you’ve watched Netflix documentary Seaspiracy lately, then you’ll have heard that we could have completely fishless seas by 2048.

This devastating reality is due to many factors, including pollution, overfishing, and climate change, which could all lead to empty oceans.

Needless to say, it fills out hearts with immense joy to report that there has been a boom in baby whales as mother mammals have been giving birth to calves in rising numbers.

The good news has seen the endangered North Atlantic right whales – of which there are estimated to be 360 in existence – produce their highest amount of calves for six years.

[Credit: Todd Cravens / Unsplash]

This is a huge breakthrough for researchers, who became alarmed when the species did not give birth to any known offspring in 2018.

In a sign that the tide is turning, 17 newborn calves were found swimming between Florida and North Carolina from December through March of this year.

“What we are seeing is what we hope will be the beginning of an upward climb in calving.”

Clay George, whale expert

This count matches 17 births in 2015, while the record is 39 back in 2009.

Speaking about the discovery, Clay George, who oversees right whale surveys for the Georgia state government in America, said this provides hope that the species can survive.

[Credit: Richard Sagredo / Unsplash]

Clay said: “What we are seeing is what we hope will be the beginning of an upward climb in calving that’s going to continue for the next few years.

“They need to be producing about two dozen calves per year for the population to stabilise and continue to grow.”

It is believed the beasts of the sea may have been struggling due to a shortage of zooplankton in the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy close to the Atlantic Ocean.

However, as the whales drifted to areas with richer food resources, they grew healthier and consequently there was an increase in births.

Meanwhile, the US federal government are exploring new rules to decrease the number of right whales tangled up in fishing gear used to catch lobster and crabs.

They are also considering clamping down on speed limits of larger vessels, which would significantly reduce the number of whales being struck by boats.

Philip Hamilton, a researcher at the New England Aquarium in Boston, explained: “If we reduced or eliminated the human-caused death rate, their birth rate would be fine.

“The onus should not be on them to reproduce at a rate that can sustain the rate at which we kill them. The onus should be in us to stop killing.”

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