North Atlantic right whales are spending more time in Canadian waters

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North Atlantic right whales spend longer in Canadian waters

Scientists have studied the equivalent of over 20,000 days recording of whale sounds.

North Atlantic right whales in Cape Bay Cod in April 2008.

North Atlantic right whales are spending longer in Canadian waters, recent study finds.

A group from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, examined recordings of different calls made by whales from 2015 to 2017 to determine their location in Canadian waters.

Delphine Durette-Morin, assistant scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute — who worked on the study while doing her master's at Dalhousie — says one of the most startling revelations from this work is how active right whales are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

They stay there for much of the year, from May to December, and not only during the summer months.

“Their continued presence is very important, because it suggests that they use the Cabot Strait as a migration corridor on a more regular basis.

— Delphine Durette-Morin, Assistant Scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute

This information is relevant to better target protection measures for this endangered species.

The study was carried out for two years using underwater microphones called hydrophones, to detect the sounds of right whales. From the Bay of Fundy to Labrador, 13 acoustic gliders and 67 mooring lines were deployed.

A right whale and her calf.

The purpose of this data, which represents the equivalent of 20,000 days of recordings, was to determine trends in the movements of North Atlantic right whales and to understand their migratory corridors.

< p class="e-p">The main causes of death of North Atlantic right whales are linked to human activity: when they become entangled in ropes or fishing equipment, or when they are victims of collision with ships.

According to censuses carried out in 2021, the North Atlantic right whale population is only 340 individuals, compared to 348 in 2020.

In winter, these mammals stay in the southeastern United States, off Florida and Georgia, before heading up to Canada.

The constant changes in the habitats they choose can complicate conservation efforts, when s that these movements are misunderstood.

Based on the report by Vanessa Moreau, CBC

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