A large number of blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales and vulnerable southern resident killer whales are being killed by speeding ships along the West Coast of the United States.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cargo and cruise boat traffic has increased over the last several decades to the point where ships have become one of the deadliest threats whales face in open oceans and coastal waters.
Between 2016 and 2020, at least 112 beached or dead whales were identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as having “injuries consistent with ship strikes.” Using this and other statistics, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit against NOAA to protect coastal whale populations by implementing new rules to reduce ship strike.
Cargo ships can be massive, driving such force into unsuspecting whales that the animals are nearly always mortally wounded, Greenpeace reports. However, the actual number of whales killed by ship strikes could be 20 times larger than official reports, since most dead whales sink.
According to the Washington Post, At least 27 whales have been struck by ships in California over the past three years, according to Federal records, including a dead fin whale draped across the bow of a container ship as it entered San Francisco Bay in 2018.
In 2020, horrific photos of two fin whales pinned to the hull of an Australian naval ship were spread worldwide, reports the Daily News. After conducting exercises in the waters off the Southern California coast, the ship berthed in a San Diego harbor where two whale bodies — one 65 feet long, the other just 25 feet — dislodged from the ship’s hull beneath the surface.
Ship strikes are a leading cause of whale deaths on both the East and West coasts, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. These deaths can be reduced through mandatory speed limits through whale habitat, including the coastal areas as ships approach California ports.
Help us ask NOAA to take action for whales and implement these speed limits in coastal whale habitat!
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