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- North Pacific right whale
Warming Arctic may pose new risks to endangered right whales
Fishing boats and North Pacific right whales must share the narrow Bering Strait
As rising temperatures shrink polar icecaps, sea creatures are migrating northward, and commercial fishing boats are following them. That could lead to more ship collisions and gear entanglements for the critically endangered eastern population of North Pacific right whales (Eubalaena japonica) in the narrow Bering Strait.
“Prey are responding to the changing climate, and species at the top of the food chain are too,” said Dana Wright lead author on a recent study in Ecological Applications.
The Pacific hosts two populations of right whales. The eastern group, found in the waters off Alaska and the Canadian Pacific, is thought to number just 30 animals. Sightings are rare, but researchers believe the animals are following zooplankton northward.