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Using Oceanography to Help North Atlantic Right Whales

Off the coast of South Jersey, lucky whale watchers may sometimes glimpse a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Despite protections in the United States (US) from whaling since 19351, this baleen whale species has struggled to recover, with only about 340 individuals remaining in the world2 . Although most right whales summer…

The Impending Extinction of the Vaquita

In 2017, I purchased one of my first travel mugs. A percentage of this purchase went to fund conservation of the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), which is a small porpoise endemic to the Gulf of California in Mexico (Porpoise Conservation Society). I still use this mug today- I’m using it as I write this blog post. When I bought the travel mug, there were fewer than 30 vaquitas left. In 2021, this estimation has dropped to less than 10 (IUCN). What is a vaquita? In Spanish, “vaquita” translates to “little cow.” Vaquitas are the smallest cetaceans on Earth, and are identifiable by dark rings around both eyes and dark patches at the mouth reaching back toward the eyes (World Wildlife Fund).  The species was not discovered until 1950, when a vaquita skull was found on the northern shore of the Gulf…

The Great Hammerhead Shark

Sphyrna mokarran, or the Great Hammerhead Shark, is an endangered species within our oceans. Like many other species, these large sharks can be caught and trapped within beach nets and even fishing nets. These beach nets are used as a guard between humans and sharks, to keep as many sharks away from humans as possible….

Are Recent North Atlantic Right Whale Deaths a Sign of Certain Extinction?

Six North Atlantic Right Whales have been found dead in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Canada this month. Could this mean a tragic and short future for the entire species? The North Atlantic Right whale is one of the most endangered large whale species in the world, with less than 450 individuals left. They are a baleen whale species that live off the coast of North America, feeding on zooplankton and copepods in Canada and New England during spring to fall months. Migrating to the warm waters of South Carolina and Georgia to give birth during the winter (NOAA). This 1000 mile journey through unprotected waters makes them extremely vulnerable. Breaching North Atlantic Right Whale The frightfully small population size is due to being hunted to near extinction during the 19th and early 20th century. In fact, they were…