Jake Yankee- Natural Resources Conservation
Olivia Babine- Environmental Science
Ben D’Ambra- Horticultural Science
Kayshauna Montano- Animal Science
The North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, faces a number of challenges to its recovery. Their habitat includes the waters off the U.S. East coast where they come into contact with pollutants, fishing gear, and boats that threaten their survival. The greatest source of right whale mortality is collisions with vessels. In order to mitigate this problem, researchers have utilized a number of strategies to help vessels and whales occupy the same space without colliding with one another. One of the most popular strategies is vessel speed restriction zones. These are geographic areas in the ocean designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where vessels must slow down to accommodate right whales (Mullen 2013). While these zones cover much of the right whale’s current range, their distribution is patchy with long stretches of unprotected space between them and they do not extend far enough offshore to cover the whale’s entire habitat. To increase the effectiveness of these zones and better protect right whales from ship strikes, we propose that protection areas be expanded to cover the entire U.S. East coast and to extend 30 nautical miles offshore.