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Striking the right balance in right whale conservation

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Despite many years of study and protection, the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) remains on the brink of extinction. There is a crucial gap in our understanding of their habitat use in the migratory corridor along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Here, we characterize habitat suitability in migrating right whales in relation to depth, distance to shore, and the recently enacted ship speed regulations near major ports. We find that the range of suitable habitat exceeds previous estimates and that, as compared with the enacted 20 nautical mile buffer, the originally proposed 30 nautical mile buffer would protect more habitat for this critically endangered species.

Malgré de nombreuses années d’étude et de protection, la baleine franche du nord (Eubalaena glacialis) de l’Atlantique Nord demeure au bord de l’extinction. Il y a une faille essentielle dans notre compréhension de leur utilisation de l’habitat dans le corridor de migration le long de la côte est des États-Unis. Nous caractérisons ici la convenance des habitats pour les baleines franches en migration en relation avec la profondeur, la distance de la rive et la réglementation récemment en vigueur sur la vitesse des navires près des ports principaux. Nous trouvons que la gamme d’habitats adéquats dépasse les estimations précédentes et que, par comparaison à la zone tampon de 20 milles marins présentement en vigueur, la zone tampon de 30 milles marins proposée à l’origine protégerait plus d’habitats pour cette espèce sérieusement menacée de disparition.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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