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Sat Mar 28, 2020, 07:33 PM

Whales face more fatal ship collisions as waters warm

Patrick Whittle, Associated Press
Updated 4:32 pm CDT, Saturday, March 28, 2020

Photo: Michael Dwyer, AP
FILE - In this March 28, 2018 file photo, a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. Ship strikes are one of the biggest causes of mortality for large whales, and scientists say the problem is getting worse because of the warming of the oceans.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Climate change is imperiling the world's largest animals by increasing the likelihood of fatal collisions between whales and big ships that ply the same waters.

Warming ocean temperatures are causing some species of whales in pursuit of food to stray more frequently into shipping lanes, scientists say.

The phenomenon already has increased ship strikes involving rare North Atlantic right whales on the East Coast and giant blue whales on the West Coast, researchers say. The number of strikes off California increased threefold in 2018 to at least 10 compared to previous years.

When whales are killed in a ship collision, they often sink and don't always wash ashore. So scientists and conservationists say fatal ship strikes are dramatically under-reported.


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