Extending SMA’s by 10 NM to Reduce Vessel Strikes with North Atlantic Right Whales

Abigail Szczepanek, major Natural  Resource Conservation

Hannah Davin, major Environmental Science

Beau Salamon-Davis, major BCT

Most animals names are derived from greek or latin terms, describing their looks or features. The North Atlantic right whale (NARW) is a special case. The right whale coined its name some time in the 17th or 18th century when whaling was becoming popular. Crane (2002) and National Geographic (2018) say they were considered the “right” whale to hunt because they are surface feeders, slow swimmers, yield high amounts of oil, meat and bone, and they float when they are dead. This made them easy targets and were hunted for nearly three centuries. Whalers would either shoot or throw a whale iron, otherwise known as a harpoon, into a whales blubber to create a connection between their boat and the whale. They would pull themselves in closer to the whale and plunge a barbed weapon into the whales lung or heart, ultimately killing it (New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2018). By 1937 there were less than 100 NARW left and commercial whaling was banned internationally (Marine Mammal Science, 2018). The whale was placed under the Endangered Species Act in 1970 (NOAA, 2018). Currently there are only 450 NARW’s left in the Atlantic Ocean and complete extinction is nearing within the next century (Gibbins, 2018). Continue Reading