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exists for the Northern Right Whale on the east coast of The United States and into the Atlantic

Ocean, it is helpful to look specifically at what is happening to that part of the environment.

IMAGE imgs/MsoDockBottom25.gif

There are four main impacts humans have had, and, for some, still having, on the

Northern Right Whale population: vessel interaction, entrapment and entanglement in fishing

gear, habitat degradation, and hunting.5 2

Furthermore, the whale's naturally-low reproduction

rate, females only have one calf every three to five years, could be a leading factor of their

inability to survive.5 3

As the Northern Right Whale lives in and around shipping lanes, they are impacted

greatly by vessel interactions. Vessel interaction is divided into two categories; collision with

ships and disturbances from vessels. Collisions with ships occur when whales are at rest at the

surface, when they skim feed, and when they surface for courtship groups.5 4Between 1970 and

1990 there have been twenty-seven Northern Right Whale mortalities due to ship collisions

alone. In the Bay of Fundy, there have been six minor collisions between 1983 and 1991. On

August 7, 1986, biologists from the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and the Center for Coastal

Studies (CCS) examined a dead stranded whale in Massachusetts. The necropsy yielded that the

whale had been alive when it was struck, and then most likely died instantly from a shattered

spine. Unfortunately, the data from observing the disturbances from vessels is not conclusive.

Observations can be made, and premises can be made, however, conclusions cannot be achieved.

It has been observed that the Northern Right Whale reacts differently to vessels, depending upon

the activity in which they are engaged. The whale appears unresponsive to approaching boats

52 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/readingrm/Recoverplans/rgtwhlrp.pdf. 53 http://www.wildkingdom.com/conservation/nrw.html
54 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/readingrm/Recoverplans/rgtwhlrp.pdf