Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct.

12/3/2019

Human caused Right whale deaths have suddenly, in sync with a plummeting whale birthrate, put the right whale on the path to extinction. Why their birth rate, births per year, declined since a tremendous surge in 2000-2009 from 350 to 500 is unknown. In 2018 it hit bottom as no calves were born.

Zaandam. Heading to Quebec City from PEI through the feeding grounds. 7/25/19.

Then a ray of hope in 2019 when 7 calves were born. The birth rate had been as high as 40 calves in one year. But for some unknown reason in 2010 the whales birthrate started to decline. Now human caused deaths seem very significant. When you consider only 12 calves were born in the past 3 years and we killed 30. That is a birthrate of -18. That said the three years prior in 2014, 15, 16, you would have found 42 calves born, so we would be ahead by + 24.

7/25/19 Zaandam following the cruise ship lane out of Prince Edward Island heading for Quebec City .
Cruise ships travel at night. They simply need to bank a right and sail up the east side of the Les Isles-de-la-Madeleine and join up with the main shipping lane where very few whales have been sighted.

There is the simple answer, to halt the march towards extinction. There is an easy way to prevent those 18 deaths and at least bring that -18 up to 0. We can stop the majority of the anthropogenic Whale deaths with a simple Cruise Ship lane modification between PEI and the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. Prior to 2007 ships were almost solely responsible for Right whale deaths, but since 2008 fishing line entanglement deaths have increased and fishermen have become the main target. However data from the past 3 years indicate many more ship strike deaths than entanglement deaths.

  2017

The entanglement deaths and a dramatic increase in ship strike deaths coincide with the sudden migration of the whales up into the Gulf of St Lawrence in 2015, right where the crab fisherman, who use heavier rope and traps are causing some entanglement deaths, and an instituted Cruise Ship lane cutting through the heart of the feeding grounds causing many more. Time is of the essence. Immediate results are needed at this juncture.

2018

We cannot wait ten years to perfect a better mousetrap, otherwise known as the $2000 dollar rope-less lobster trap with a $2000.00 radio sender unit.

2019

That is the direction environmental and animal protection organizations are steering the effort. However we do not have ten years to implement a cure for the Canadian crab fisherman. The Right whale today is on it’s way to extinction. The time to act is now. There is something way off with all these ship strike results in an area only frequented by the cruise lines and no mention of it in any of the literature. Cruise ships are responsible for the majority of the deaths. This becomes obvious after looking at the facts surrounding this issue.

2017

2019

You have a berthing pier built in Charlottestown on Prince Edwards Island in 2007. They are invested in the cruise industry. The Canadian Government is invested. They are hooked. The cruise ships developed a cruise lane right through the middle of what was to become the Right Whales feeding grounds when they first started using PEI as a Port of Call.

Cruise ship route after 2017.

In 2015 the Right Whales discovered the copepod bloom in the GSL. A massive amount of copepods right under the Cruise lane. The whales have continued to find these copepods in the same general area every year now since 2015. So copepods feed at the surface at night so Right whales surface feeding on their favorite food are sitting ducks for the cruise ships moving through to get their customers to Quebec City. Or on the return trip from Quebec City to Prince Edward Island.

Cruise ship route prior to 2017.

In 2015, 3 whales were found dead. The cause was not determined. No necropsy was done and apparently they were free of obvious gear. That year, only 3undetermined deaths reported. Very possibly cruise ships. In 2016, 1 entanglement death in Canada, 1 entanglement in the USA at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and one undetermined cause of death just outside Port of Call, Bar Harbor, ME during the busiest time of the cruise ship season. A fourth was a verified ship strike found off Barnstable, Cape Cod Bay.

In 2017, in the Gulf of St Lawrence 2 entanglement deaths by necropsy and 4 ship strikes by necropsy , however there were 6 undetermined, not necropsied. If the ratio of 2 to 1 holds for the six undetermined than 8 died from ship strikes and four from entanglements. But the fact that the 6 undetermined whales spotted were not reported entangled in rope may indicate 10 whales were killed by cruise ships. There is no ship traffic other than cruise ships in the whale feeding grounds. Strange as it seems. The whales main diet is copepods which eat fecal matter which cruise ships serve at a rate of 55 gallons of black water sewage a minute. They eat like kings on those ships. It’s gourmet black water. In effect chumming the cruise lane for Right Whales. Oceanographers call it Marine Snow.

If you figure the ratio of necropsied whales done in the GSL that year held true for all the undetermined ones then you would have the possibility of saving 18 ship struck whales in just the past three years. 18 subtracted from the 30 total deaths for those three years would leave 12 anthropogenic deaths. Consider the 12 births in that 3 year period and your even. 0 loss 0 gain in the total number of Right Whales.

Basically Holland American out of Boston, owned by Carnival, Ran 3 ships through the feeding area. In 2017 it was the Maasdam and the Veendam making 15 passes at night when the whales were feeding. In 2019, it was the Zaandam making 12 passes and the AidAvita making 3 more. Now it appears from their advertising brochures the cruise lines shifted their course a little further north after the 2017 disaster but it just shifted the angle that they cut through the middle of the feeding grounds. They should have been aware of the boundaries of the feeding area by the whale sightings map. There were no deaths in 2018 because the whales congregated just South of 2017 location. Then the whales shifted back North in 2019 and once again were sitting ducks. 8 more deaths. The Cruise Lines should have decided to avoid that general area after 2017 but it was a fuel savings of approximately $16,000 in fuel for each visit. They need to modify their course and go East of the Magdalen Islands and head North to the main shipping lane where very few whales are sighted.

And there you have it. Saved from extinction with a simple course modification by Carnival Cruise Lines.

Now, had the Canadians shut down the crab fishery from June to mid July we would have seen an increase of nearly 12 new Right whales in the past three years.

Jim O’Connell
Bar Harbor Me
Studied MPE, Wentworth Institute of Engineering Technology, Boston

3 Responses to Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct.

  1. Linda Coplin says:

    We must stop putting pleasure in front of death and possible extinction of other life forms. They were put here by Creator for a reason. How sad and permanent if not now but in the future we find out that important purpose but it is too late.

  2. Jim O’Connell says:

    One important fact to keep in mind. The ships killed 6-7 whales in 2019 while traveling at 10 knots. A mandatory speed restriction was in place from April 28th to Dec10.

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