Please take a moment before reading further to go online and view an astonishing, awe-inspiring video from The Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. It shows a young right whale breeching near the entrance to Blue Hill Bay early last month. What a gift to see this magnificent marine mammal so close to our home. (https://mobile.twitter.com/CenterOceanLife/status/1292953707815079937)
Tragically, this gift is one that the next generation and the ones that follow may never experience. For the North Atlantic right whale is critically endangered. At least 30 have been killed since the summer of 2017. Currently, there are only about 400 left in the world, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), even a single death per year will lead to their extinction.
It’s well documented that one of the major causes of severe injury and death of right whales is entanglement in the heavy vertical ropes used by lobster and crab fishermen. For a horrific description of what happens, take a look at Francine Kershaw’s article “The Cruel Reality of Right Whale Entanglements” (https://www.nrdc.org/experts/francine-kershaw/cruel-reality-right-whale-entanglements). It’s devastating reading.
Strangely enough, this brings me to the recent Republican National Convention. I didn’t watch, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a Maine lobsterman, Jason Joyce of Swan’s Island, was one of the speakers. I listened to Mr. Joyce’s speech a few days later and was heartened to hear him state on national television that “Maine lobstermen are true environmentalists [who] practice conservation every day”.
Mr. Joyce and I do not share similar political views, but that’s irrelevant. For I also consider myself to be an environmentalist and conservationist. Stewardship of the Earth and all its inhabitants is a nonpartisan responsibility. And if the North Atlantic right whale has any chance of being saved from extinction, it will take people of all political and philosophical stripes to be willing to put aside differences and work together with best efforts. It is not acceptable to do less.
East Blue Hill