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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO - Vol. 135, No. 1 - FEATURE ARTICLE
This dead North Atlantic right whale was documented on 26 January 2018 ~60 miles off the coast of Virginia, chronically entangled in fishing gear. The carcass was subsequently towed to shore for necropsy. Investigating whale carcasses to determine cause of death requires specialized skills, logistics, and dedicated funding. Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance, NOAA permit #20556

Sharp SM, McLellan WA, Rotstein DS, Costidis AM, Barco SG, Durham K, Pitchford TD, Jackson KA, Daoust PY, Wimmer T, Couture EL, Bourque L, Frasier T, Frasier B, Fauquier D, Rowles TK, Hamilton PK, Pettis H, Moore MJ


Gross and histopathologic diagnoses from North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis mortalities between 2003 and 2018

North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis (NARW) are one of the most endangered large whale species in the world, with entanglement and vessel strikes threatening their survival. Sharp and co-authors documented 70 NARW mortalities between 2003 and 2018. Of the 43 whales for which cause of death was determined, 88% were due to human-induced trauma: 22 from entanglement and 16 from vessel strike. Additionally, the overall prevalence of NARW entanglement mortalities increased from 21% (1970-2002) to 51% during this study period. This work and these alarming trends highlight the immediate need for management solutions that decrease or eliminate entanglement and vessel collision threats in NARW habitat in order to reduce the risk of extinction for this critically endangered species.


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