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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

Both globally and along the North American east coast of the Atlantic Ocean, reported ship strikes of great whales have been at historic highs during the past fifteen years. Ship strikes present a particularly grave threat to the North Atlantic right whale, given its severely depleted population status and the fact that right whales live, breed, and raise their young in areas that are heavily used by massive commercial vessels that travel at lethal speeds. Fortunately, decreasing the possibility of lethal strikes is not complicated—seasonally slow down vessels to ten knots and/or re-route them around those areas where right whales are known to aggregate. Here I describe the plight of the right whale and a series of scientific studies that can, and in some instances have, been used to facilitate legally defensible and common sense government measures to protect great whales.

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