SeaWorld Donates $900,000 to Protect Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

By  //  November 18, 2019

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Right whales are typically sighted off Florida between November and April

The coastal waters off Florida and Georgia are the only known calving area for North Atlantic right whales and these waters have been designated as right whale critical habitat by the National Marine Fisheries Service. (FWC image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The coastal waters off Florida and Georgia are the only known calving area for North Atlantic right whales and these waters have been designated as right whale critical habitat by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Right whales are typically sighted off Florida between November and April.

The North Atlantic right whale is among the most endangered of the world’s large whales with an estimated population of approximately 411 individuals.

Entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes are two of the most pressing issues for these whales.

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund announced that it has committed $900,000 over the next three years in the fight to save the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

Entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes are two of the most pressing issues for these whales.

The announcement was made by Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, alongside Dr. Hendrik Nollens, Corporate Vice President of Animal Health and Welfare at SeaWorld and President of the SeaWorld Conservation Fund, during the 2019 Ropeless Consortium meeting, an annual summit to help protect marine animals, at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

The funding provided by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund will be primarily used to test alternative non-lethal fishing gear.

Whales and sea turtles commonly entangle in ropes that connect crab or lobster traps on the seafloor to buoys on the sea surface.

These ropes allow fishermen to haul their traps to the sea surface, and the buoy allows fishermen to locate gear.

These ropes allow fishermen to haul their traps to the sea surface, and the buoy allows fishermen to locate gear.

Removing this end line from trap and pot fishing gear will significantly reduce or even eliminate entanglements.

There are promising prototypes available for evaluation by scientists, regulators and fishermen, but few resources for proper testing of these systems.

Support by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund will be used to evaluate the cost, the operational impact to the fishermen and the safety for the whales, as well as advance public awareness of the issues.

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