Not only is climate change contributing to the surge in whale deaths, but our craving for online shopping is also thought by researchers.
According to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), today there is a surge in mortality among whales – since the beginning of December last year alone, 23 dead whales have washed up on the east coast, writes The New York Times.
NOAA has been tracking the mortality of humpback whales on the Atlantic coast since 2016, but researchers have not observed such a surge before. Recently, things have changed – more and more dead humpback whales, minke whales and North Atlantic right whales, which are endangered, are found dead.
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The researchers note that the cause of mass mortality of whales is certainly a combination of several factors at once, including climate change, as well as the result of human intervention.
Climate change is actually partly to blame for mass whale deaths, according to public relations director Lauren Gaches, as warmer oceans are causing the fish that whales feed on to move closer to shore. At the moment, researchers around the world are watching how the inhabitants of the ocean are trying to adapt to new realities, moving to new areas where conditions are more favorable for life.
As a result of the redistribution of prey, larger ocean inhabitants, such as whales, are also forced to move closer to the shore, and therefore interact with people more than before. In fact, in search of prey, whales often go towards cargo ships, which have increased many times over the past three years.
The researchers note that the number of cargo ships in the ocean has increased dramatically since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when people around the world began to prefer online shopping. As a consequence, this has led to a proliferation of cargo ships that carry these goods across the Atlantic to the busy ports of New Jersey and New York. Compared to 2019, maritime traffic increased by almost a third last year, according to local authorities.
The more ships become, the more often whale populations collide with them and, as a rule, such collisions end very badly for the inhabitants of the ocean. Note that, as a precaution, NOAA has proposed limiting the speed of cargo ships, which would allow the whales to move out of the trajectory of the vessel, but the sad fact remains – the whales will always follow their prey.
Focus previously wrote that the whales’ mysterious new behavior is described in 2,000-year-old manuscripts.
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