The death rate of humpback whales has been unusually high off the east coast of the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has officially declared it to be an unusual mortality event, or a UME.
According to CNN, a UME is “a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response.
In total 41 hump back died last year.
NOAA said it doesn’t yet have a concrete reason why all of the animals have died.
The agency conducted necropsies on 20 whales, and 10 appeared to have been struck and killed by ships.
There are about 10,400 humpbacks in the Atlantic region, and federal authorities delisted the species from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in September (they still fall under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, however).
NOAA has issued three unusual mortality event investigations involving humpbacks before, in 2003, 2005 and 2006. In each instance, the agency was unable to determine the cause of death.
On the other side of the Atlantic large trawlers are being blamed for the alarming increase of dolphin deaths in the UK and Ireland: 5 fold increase since 2010.
A MARINE wildlife expert from Brixham has described the killing of dolphins in South West waters as a ‘massacre’ – with over 100 found dead in just eight weeks.
A total of 106 dolphins and porpoises have washed up on Cornwall’s beaches and in the nets of fishing boats in just eight weeks, according to Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
The toll for the whole of last year was 205 while in the two previous years the numbers had been under 100.
Large trawlers are being blamed for the alarming increase – with French boats said to be the worst offenders as they work in pairs.