Canadians watched in horror last summer as one North Atlantic right whale after another was found dead around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, washed up on beaches or floating offshore, apparent victims of ship strikes or fishing gear entanglements.
Scientists think part of the problem may stem from the whales moving into new territory in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in search of food, where they instead encounter busy shipping lanes and commercial fishing zones. This set of circumstances, driven at least in part by climate change, is raising alarm bells about other whale populations living a long way from the Gulf. In Canada’s Arctic, warming waters and longer ice-free seasons driven by climate change are creating the conditions for a major increase in shipping and potentially even fishing in waters heavily used by whales and other marine mammals.
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Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada