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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Other Sea Life

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Other Sea Life

Threats to Mammals and Birds
Whales and Shipping
Is Whaling Over?
Plastic Garbage
Noise Pollution

Dead Right Whale Tom Young

Remains of a Right Whale hit by a ship.  Carcass found just outside the Newburyport, MA harbor. Photo by Tom Young.

Whales And Shipping

Right Whale Carcass
This whale carcass was found floating just outside the mouth of the Merrimack River by the Newburyport Whale Watch in early June 1999. The naturalist could not identify it to species, but there was a report of a large ship hitting a Right Whale.

The Right Whale is one of the most endanged species of whale. There is a population of Right Whales that summer in the Bay of Fundy and migrate through the Stellwagen Bank/ Jeffrey Ledge area in spring and fall. This takes them across the major shipping lanes into the port of Boston.

When the boat approached this carcass it was surrounded by 100 or more Wilson's Storm-petrels, all of which had flown by the time the picture was taken by Tom Young.

Fin Whale Survives Boat Propeller
This Fin Whale clearly shows healed scars from boat propellers. This was probably accidental when the whale surfaced under the boat.

Fortunately this guy survived.

Photo by Leonard Medlock taken on the September Jeffrey's Ledge pelagic.

Fin Whale marked by ship propellar Leonard Medlock


The fishing industry hurts whales in three ways:
·Depletion of food supply
·Disruption of schooling.

This is a baby whale entangled in a rope from fishing gear. Such entanglements occur every year. The Center for Coastal Studies at Provincetown on Cape Cod works to free entangled mammals.

Photo by Emmalee Tarry

Baby Humpback Whale entanged in fishing line  Emmalee Tarry

Disruption of Schooling

Draggers pulling long nets disrupt schools of Herring. Herring do not readily reschool. Whales need large school of fish to survive. Regulation of the Herring Fishery in the Gulf of Maine has contributed to the increase of whales and birds off the NH coast.  The Gloucester fishermen  mount a huge campaign aganst this regulation attracting politicians and getting national media attention.  Support this regulation. 

The US government has spent many millions of dollars trying to restore the fishing off the east coast and now some slight improvement had been made. The regulation must continue in order to provide habitat for commercial fishing and whale watching.

The Gloucester fishermen do not own the fish or the ocean.  The fish belong to the people who have every right to preserve the resource the fishermen are so happy to deplete.

Fishing boats dragging net thru the water disrupt schools of fish .  Emmalee Tarry

Depletion of food supply and Bycatch
Overfishing and bycatch have reduced the population of fish in all oceans. For a complete discussion of this problem read Song of The Blue Ocean by Carl Safina. (1997).

Fishermen have been most resistant to regulations of fish take and the government reluctant to force the issue. The result has been disastrous for both the wild animals and the fishing industry.

The most ridiculous arguments are that Beluga Whales, seals and sea lions are depleting the fish stocks. We know who is doing it and it is us. Have you ever seen a seal drag a 26 mile net catching everything in the way and then discarding some of it dead because it is the wrong species.

Whaling is not over. Whales used to be taken for their oil (now replaced by fossil fuels) , for bone (used like plastic, and for food. They are still taken for food.

Countries still taking whales:Japan, Iceland, Norway

Plastic Garbage

Recently there has been much publicity about the huge lake of floating plastic garbage that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean just north of the Hawaiian Islands. There is a similar accumulation in the Atlantic Ocean. Water bottles account for a good bit of this garbage.

Noise Pollution

Noisy boat propellars and navy sonar interfer with whales in ways that have not been fully determined.

Other Sea Life | Whales & Dolphin | Ocean Sunfish | Sea Turtles | Sharks | Misc. Sea Life | Threats | Top of Page     Comments to webmaster

Folkens, Peter (2002) Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Alfred A. Knopf New York

Kinze, Carl Charistian (2001) Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic Princeton University Press Princeton NJ

Safina, Carl (1997) Song for the blue ocean ; Henry Holt and Company, NY