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North Atlantic Right Whale species number shrinking, even before the inception of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The deaths and lack of births of Species concern researchers and environmentalists.

North-Atlantic-Right-Whale-species-number-shrinkingNOAA scientists estimate there are only about 450 North Atlantic right whales. There are only 100 of whales which are reproducing females. They have been known to live for at least 80 years in the wild and can reach more than 50 feet in length.

When you compare its number with the overall number of their population, that’s a significant chunk,” said Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute in Lewes.

Zoodsma said healthy whales usually give birth to a calf once every three years. But lately, she said, right whales have only been giving birth once every eight years.

“These days, right whale females, most are dead by the time they’re 50,” she said. “A lot of them are dying in their 30s. They’re living shorter lives.” The most recent dead right whale was found in Virginia in January.

“There would be no turning back from the extinction of such an incredible creature,” Thurman said. “It would impact so many others. There is a huge ripple effect. They are not isolated.”

Thurman and Zoodsma said the survival of right whales depends on regulatory action regarding fishing gear and ship speeds. However consumer’s choices could limit the need for those large ships and reduce pollution that makes its way into the ocean.