It is with great sadness to report that one of the remaining 500 North Atlantic Right whales was found washed ashore on the coast of Maine. The creature was completely entangled in fishing line. The most unfortunate thing about this story is that it is not uncommon, it wasn’t the first time this has happened, and it ultimately will not be the last.These whales, North Atlantic Right whales, are considered both the rarest and most endangered of whales protected by the Endangered Species Act.
According to Nature World News, 85% of whale deaths between 2010 and 2015 were linked to entanglement by fishing gear.When fishing equipment is left or discarded in the ocean irresponsibly, they drift, ultimately causing “ghost fishing” where marine life is captured and entangled by these devices just because it is drifting freely. Unsuspecting creatures swim into traps and fishing line and can slowly or immediately drown, or if the gear is in their mouths it can hinder them from feeding properly.
Just last week the Jersey Shore’s Sea Isle city had a humpback whale that washed ashore completely entangled in fishing line. This was the second whale this year to wash up on a New Jersey beach according to NJ101.5. The whale was said to be a juvenile, and was confirmed to have died due to entanglement. The whale was also struck by a vessel after the whale had died.
Both the west and east coast face issues with an excess of fishing gear in the ocean. This gear includes traps like crab pots and nets as well as other traps.
According to an article by NPR,
“It’s estimated there are more than 85,000 derelict traps in the Florida Keys, affecting 79 species and killing 630,000 lobsters a year. An estimated 450,000 pots used to catch blue crab are lost each year in Louisiana. In the Chesapeake Bay, where nearly half of all U.S. blue crabs are landed, 160,000 crab pots go astray annually. And according to the environmental group World Animal Protection, of the 3 million lobster pots that go into the water in Maine, an estimated 10 percent are lost each year.”
While some precautions have been taken to limit the amount of equipment that goes adrift, It has ultimately not been enough. Because of the competition to catch seafood, marine life is suffering. Although there’s not much one can do alone, there are petitions and other ways online to get involved. But one way you can help is by potentially eating less seafood.By eating less seafood, there is less demand for fisherman to put their traps and lines out there.
If enough people do this, there may be some change. Until then whales will keep washing ashore in great numbers. Hopefully if more people become aware, and it takes a whale to wash up on their beach to get through to them, a difference can be made and a shift in consciousness will occur where people begin to understand that what they put into the ocean matters, and that there is always a price to pay for what gets taken out of it.