Climate change forcing whales into dangerous shipping lanes
Climate change is imperilling the world’s largest animals by increasing the likelihood of fatal collisions between whales and big ships that ply the same waters.
Warming ocean temperatures are causing some species of whales in pursuit of food to stray more frequently into shipping lanes, scientists say.
The phenomenon already has increased ship strikes involving rare North Atlantic right whales on the East Coast and giant blue whales on the West Coast, researchers say.
When whales are killed in a ship collision, they often sink and don’t always wash ashore. So scientists and conservationists say fatal ship strikes are dramatically under-reported.
Vessels strikes are among the most frequent causes of accidental death in large whales, along with entanglement in fishing gear.
Scientists say the changing ocean environment and a shift in food sources with global warming is causing right whales and some other species to stray outside protected zones designed to keep them safe from ships.