The 1.3 million whales left in Earth’s oceans are facing danger amid a growing number of cargo ships as whales emerge from the water and move to the sea. their feeding or breeding areas.
Global maritime traffic quadrupled between 1992 and 2012. In some parts of the world, such as the Arctic, the number of ships actually doubled between 2013 and 2018. There, the number of whales is decreasing.
Since commercial whaling was banned in 1986, the biggest measurable threat to whales has been washed up on shore. An estimated 300,000 whales die each year after being entangled in fishing gear.
However, there is a bigger threat. Whale collisions with ships, though not easily counted, can result in death of whales. The sad sight of a whale carcass strapped to the front of a docking boat is only a small part of the number of accidents.
North American Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society policy director Sue Fisher said:It is difficult to know how many whales would have actually been damaged by these threats if their carcasses had sunk into the water and were never found at sea.“.
Whale collisions with large vessels often go unnoticed and unreported.
Ms. Sue Fisher added: “Many whales were found stranded on the shore with impact injuries similar to being hit by ships“.
For some populations, such as the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species whose primary habitat is the crowded seas off the east coast of the United States and Canada, the problem even more serious. The International Whaling Commission states on its website that the death of a whale in a collision with a ship could make the difference between the species’ extinction and survival.
Whales play an important role in supporting healthy marine ecosystems and in coping with climate change. They provide nutrients for phytoplankton, which absorb 40% of the total CO .2 created on Earth. This giant marine mammal sequesteres about 33 tons of CO2, which is 1,500 times more than the amount of CO2 that a green plant absorbs in a year.
The World Sustainability Organization (WSO) says the potential threat lurking from large ships can be addressed by governments, operators, even consumers.
The organization is campaigning to change the route some ships take through important feeding or breeding areas. According to the WSO report, high-risk areas include the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Hauraki Bay in New Zealand, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean Sea, among others.
The Trade Association and the World Shipping Council did not respond to requests for comment, but said in response that they were working on the issue, working closely with two environmental groups including the International Fund for Dynamic Welfare and the International Maritime Organization. Animals and Great Whale Conservation.
The trade association as well as the WSO are working with Sri Lankan authorities to move shipping routes on the southern coast of the country. The number of fatal collisions with whales has nearly doubled in the past 40 years, causing local blue whale populations to drop by more than 50%.