Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate driving new right whale movement

29.05.2019

Scientists discover that rapid warming in the gulf of maine's depths is changing food availability and increasing risk to one of the world's most endangered animals

New research connects recent changes in the movement of North Atlantic right whales to decreased food availability and rising temperatures in Gulf of Maine's deep waters.


A North Atlantic right whale breaches. New research shows that rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine's depths is changing food availability and increasing risk to these whales -- one of the world's most endangered animals.

Credit: Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, New England Aquarium

Right whales have been showing up in unexpected places in recent years, putting the endangered species at increased risk.

The study, which was published in Oceanography and conducted by scientists from more than 10 institutions, provides insights to this key issue complicating conservation efforts.

"The climate-driven changes rippling throughout the Gulf of Maine have serious consequences for the small number of remaining right whales," said Nick Record, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and lead author on the paper. "Climate change is outdating many of our conservation and management efforts, and it's difficult to keep up with the rapid evolution of this ecosystem."

Climate change has shifted circulation patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean, including the currents that flow into the Gulf of Maine's depths. This study found that some of these deep waters have warmed nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit since 2004 - twice as much as the fastest warming waters at the surface. These changes have drastically reduced the supply of right whale's primary prey - a high-fat, rice-sized crustacean called Calanus finmarchicus.

"Ocean conditions determine where right whales go and when they go there," said Dan Pendleton, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium and an author on the paper.

"For decades, we have known where and when to find right whales. Now that paradigm is breaking down, and we're seeing changes to behaviors that had remained consistent since before people starting observing them."

Right whales have historically made an autumn journey to the mouth of the Bay of Fundy to feast in preparation for winter. In the absence of abundant Calanus in that region, right whales are following their food - which means foraging well outside of the areas established to protect them.

The misalignment between conservation measures and the whales' current behavior makes them much more vulnerable to lethal encounters with ships and fishing gear. However, the researchers believe that the strong connection between water temperature, Calanus, and right whales makes it possible to predict where new right whale habitats develop, and to plan accordingly.

"Calanus is the primary reason that right whales, and many other marine animals, including herring, have thrived in the Gulf of Maine," said Jeff Runge, a research scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and professor at the University of Maine. "But Calanus finmarchicus is a subarctic species living at the southern edge of its range here. Its presence and ability to store high energy fat is at risk by the warming of deep waters, where it spends part of its life cycle."

As part of previous research in 2012, Record and Pendleton used data about Calanus and oceanographic conditions to develop an algorithm to identify right whale habitats. Working with collaborators, including Andrew Pershing from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, they determined that the region south of Nantucket might be a previously unknown right whale habitat.

Recent surveys have revealed the area is indeed a hotspot for the species, and the researchers now hope to develop similar tools to help people predict and prepare for future movement of right whales.

Good data are critical to accurate predictions, however, and routine measurements to monitor change in Calanus abundance in the Gulf of Maine have been drastically reduced due to a lack of funding. Runge and others in the research community are working hard to recover this capability in the region, and Record hopes that he may be able to develop models that use alternative data sources to forecast right whale locations, such as monitoring seawater for signs of whale DNA and collecting observations by citizen scientists.

"Conservation in this age of climate change requires a proactive approach," Record said. "Developing computer models that can anticipate change is our best chance at getting the edge we need to protect right whales and other species in the rapidly changing Gulf of Maine."

###

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is an independent, nonprofit research institute located in East Boothbay, Maine. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, Bigelow Laboratory scientists use cutting-edge techniques to understand the ocean's mysteries, address its challenges, and unlock its hidden opportunities. Learn more at bigelow.org, and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Media Contact

Steven Profaizer
sprofaizer@bigelow.org
207-315-2567 x103

 @BigelowLab

http://www.bigelow.org 

Steven Profaizer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.bigelow.org/news/articles/2019-05-29.html
http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2019.201

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht 5000 tons of plastic released into the environment every year
12.07.2019 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Climate impact of clouds made from airplane contrails may triple by 2050
27.06.2019 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

Im Focus: First results of the new Alphatrap experiment

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg report the first result of the new Alphatrap experiment. They measured the bound-electron g-factor of highly charged (boron-like) argon ions with unprecedented precision of 9 digits. In comparison with a new highly accurate quantum electrodynamic calculation they found an excellent agreement on a level of 7 digits. This paves the way for sensitive tests of QED in strong fields like precision measurements of the fine structure constant α as well as the detection of possible signatures of new physics. [Physical Review Letters, 27 June 2019]

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) describes the interaction of charged particles with electromagnetic fields and is the most precisely tested physical theory. It...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

A human liver cell atlas

15.07.2019 | Life Sciences

No more trial-and-error when choosing an electrolyte for metal-air batteries

15.07.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Possibilities of the biosimilar principle of learning are shown for a memristor-based neural network

15.07.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>