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 New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Other Sea Life


Threats to Mammals and Birds


Other Sea Life

 Threats to Mammals and Birds


Boat Strikes


Disruption of Schooling


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.

Boat Strikes - 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.

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.

The Right Whale is one of the most endanger 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.

In spring these whales hang out in Cape Cod Bay for a time before moving north into the Gulf of Maine and the open ocean.  Cape Cod Bay is closed to fishing until the Right Whales move on. 

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


Baby Humpback Whale entanged in fishing line  Emmalee Tarry

 Baby whale entangled in fishing gear.

Whales are found entangled in active and fishing gear.  Since whales must surface to breath some times the whale dies because it cannot surface. If the whale is able to surface it may not be able to feed dragging the heavy fishing gear.

Discarded fishing gear is sometimes left drifting in the ocean.  This is especially disconcerting because it is 100% preventable if fishermen would take responsibility for lost or discarded gear.

The Center for Coastal Studies at Provincetown on Cape Cod works to free entangled mammals. It is very dangerous work and volunteers have been injured. 

The first problem is to catch the whale and attach gear to prevent it from trying to swim away.  Then the experts try to cut the ropes to free the animal.  In the above case the animal is a highly endangered Right Whale. (Notice V shaped blow.)

Disruption of Schooling

Draggers pulling 26 mile long nets disrupt schools of Herring and other small fish. Herring do not readily re-school. Whales need large schools 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 against 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 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

Overfishing and by catch 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 has been reluctant to force the issue. The result has been disastrous for both the animals and the fishing industry.

Is Whaling Over?

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.

The ships that hunt whales and dolphins are not the little boats you see around the harbor in Gloucester.  They are huge factory ships like the above.  They don't throw hand held harboons.  The big ships use high powered weapons to harpoon anima.s. 

Countries  taking whales:Japan, Iceland, Norway. These huge factory ships use high powered weapons to harpoon whales.


 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.

With guns like this the whales and dolphins don't stand a chance.

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 propellers and navy sonar interfer with whales in ways that have not been fully determined.

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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