The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminsitration reported today that it was able to mostly free a North Atlantic right whale from entanglement in some sort of long, tangled rope. The whale was young, just a little over a year old, and had previously been sighted, free of entanglement, in Nova Scotia. Working in cooperation with non-governmental animal rescue teams, NOAA was able to cut the whale mostly free of the rope, hoping that what remains will fall off naturally as the whale moves through the water on its own.
Interesting in this case of whale entanglement is the location of the whale – off the coast of Florida, nearby an Atlantic ocean gyre where floating garbage collects in large amounts along with seaweed. North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with only between 300 and 400 animals in the species left alive. Given their long generational span, the loss of even one North Atlantic right whale could lead the extinction of the species.
Junk on land can wash into rivers and streams, and from there into the oceans, where it can provide a deadly obstacle to marine animals. So, even if you don’t live near the oceans yourself, you can do something concrete to help save the whales – reduce your garbage, recycle everything that you can, and don’t just dump the rest of your junk. Seek out information about where your trash goes, and what safeguards are in place to ensure that it won’t escape into the environment at large.