Preliminary Estimate: 366 Endangered Right Whales Remain on Earth

Grim report detailed at annual meeting

North Atlantic right whale

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

October 26, 2020 (BOSTON, MA) – At the annual North Atlantic right whale consortium meeting this week, scientists will announce that the population has dropped precipitously to an estimated 366 right whales alive in January 2019. Since that time NOAA Fisheries has documented another 15 deaths or serious injuries leading to death. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“These population estimates are devastating,” said Erica Fuller, Senior Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. “The outlook is grim if we do not act today. We know human activities are decimating this population, what will it take for federal fishery managers to finally take action to protect these magnificent animals?”

The NOAA Fisheries population estimate was announced in an email this afternoon.

With so few North Atlantic right whales, every death is its own tragedy. For years, CLF has been pushing for stronger protections to help this species recover. As a result of our lawsuits, federal fishery managers have until May 2021 to issue new rules that will protect right whales from entanglement in fishing gear. CLF and its partners have also advocated for mandatory speed limits to help protect the whales from ship strikes, another leading cause of death.

CLF experts are available for further comment.