Quantcast

Young Humpback Whale Found Dead, Exposes Devastating Impacts of Ocean Trash

Animals

A humpback whale was found dead on the Isle of Barra in Scotland earlier this week. According to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, the juvenile male had lesions on its tail that was likely caused by inadvertent entanglement in fishing gear.

This humpback whale that washed ashore in Scotland showed signs of entanglement in fishing gear, which likely caused its death. Photo credit:
Bruce Taylor/ Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

The Hebrides News reported March 2 that the 26-foot-long whale was in a "poor, thin condition" when first discovered by local residents. A spokesman from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme told the publication that the cuts on the whale's body were consistent with being accidentally caught in fishing gear which may have indirectly caused its death.

"It's an unfortunate accident as fishermen obviously do not go out intending to catch whales," the spokesperson said, who added that since whales can't swim in reverse, the heavy weight of trailing ropes and fishing creel acts "like a sea anchor so it can't feed properly and loses condition."

The Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme noted on Facebook that the lesions found on the whale's body was "typical of those we see associated with creel lines."

"We have no way of knowing whether it was active or ghost gear that it became entangled in," the post continues. "It is possible it was cut loose from active gear but equally it could of floated loose from ghost gear."

"Ghost gear" includes nets, lines and traps that are lost, abandoned or discarded in our oceans. With an estimated 640,000 tonnes of this material left in our oceans annually, ghost gear can have a devastating and deadly effect on aquatic life.

There have been 21 strandings of humpback whales recorded in the UK since 2001, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme noted on Facebook.

"Entanglement is the most commonly recorded cause of death for Minke whales in Scottish waters, and has been observed in several humpback whales and other species as well, including the Killer whale that stranded on Tiree earlier this year," the organization wrote.

"Nevertheless the exact numbers and scale at which entanglement occurs are unknown, making it challenging to quantify the issue and its impact on a population level."

As EcoWatch reported last month, an adult female Orca named Lulu was found dead on the Scottish island of Tiree with deep lesions on her body. After a necropsy was performed, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme concluded the whale had been “chronically entangled” in abandoned fishing gear for several days and likely drowned from entanglement.

According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, adult male humpbacks grow up to 40-48 feet and have a life expectancy of 45-50 years. There are an estimated 30,000-40,000 humpbacks on the planet, or about 30-35 percent of the original population.

Although the humpback whale is currently listed as endangered, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas and has proposed removing most of the species’s population sites off the endangered species list.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

TED Talk: ‘It’s Not Too Late for Our Oceans’

Scientists Find Answer to Why Thousands of Sea Lion Pups Are Starving

World’s First and Only Sunglasses Made From 100% Reclaimed Fishing Nets

Whale Found Dead With Small Pieces of Plastic Garbage in Its Stomach

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less