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Right whale UPSC NOTE


  • The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is a baleen whale, one of three right whale species belonging to the genus Eubalaena

  • Conservation status for North Atlantic right whale : Critically endangered

  • Entanglement in fishing gear is a deadly threat to these critically endangered animals. 

  • Scientists estimate that before commercial whaling scaled up in the 18th and 19th centuries, there may have been as many as 10,000 North Atlantic right whales. 

  • Today, fewer than 360 individuals remain. Almost 90% of them have been entangled at least once.

  • When whales become entangled in fishing gear, they use extra energy dragging it as they swim. 

  • If the rope is caught around their mouths, they may struggle to feed and slowly starve. 

  • Ropes wrapped around whales’ bodies, flippers or tails can cut into the animals’ skin and become deeply embedded in their flesh. 

  • This can cause infections, chronic emaciation and damage to whales’ blubber, muscle, bone and baleen – the bristly structures in their mouths that they use to filter prey from the water.

  • North Atlantic right whales are legally protected, both internationally and in U.S. waters, including policies that seek to reduce deaths or serious injuries resulting from entanglements. 

  • However, even when entanglement does not kill a whale, it can affect individuals’ ability to reproduce, which is critically important for a species with such low numbers.

  • North Atlantic right whales historically started breeding by around 9 years of age and gave birth to a single calf every three to four years thereafter for several decades.

  • Today, however, many females have yet to reproduce at all. 

  • Moreover, those that have successfully produced calves now don’t produce another calf for more than seven years on average.

  • Research has shown that poor health and physical condition are making it harder for these females to even start breeding. 

  • Since the early 1980s, North Atlantic right whales have literally shrunk: Adults have shorter bodies than they did several decades ago. 

  • This trend is associated with entanglements in fishing gear. 

  • As is true for all mammals, decreasing female body size reduces the likelihood of reproducing. Smaller whales have fewer calves.

  • New study found that female right whales who have experienced even a minor entanglement before reaching sexual maturity may not ever start to breed.

  •  Even females who have previously reproduced are less likely to breed again following an entanglement event.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Right whale UPSC NOTE
Right whale UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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