Endangered Right Whales Threatened by Seismic Surveys

April 14, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©NOAA

A series of seismic surveys for oil and gas planned for the waters between Delaware and Florida pose a substantial threat to one of the world's most endangered whale species, says a group of renowned marine mammal scientists.

In an open letter sent to President Obama this week, the 27 leading right whale experts, from places like New England Aquarium, Duke University, and WCS, stated that the surveys would significantly impact the acoustically sensitive North Atlantic right whale, an endangered species numbering no more than 500 animals, and "would jeopardize its survival."

Last month, the administration excluded oil and gas leases in the same regions for the next five years, but the controversial seismic surveys may continue as planned.

Growing to nearly 60 feet in length, the North Atlantic right whale was one of the first targets of the world's commercial whaling industry. It was rapidly hunted from its habitat in the Atlantic before whalers moved onto other species. It is designated as "Critically Endangered" on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, and is protected in U.S. waters by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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