[MARMAM] Right Whale Health Assessment paper

Michael Moore mmoore at whoi.edu
Thu Mar 4 12:13:27 PST 2021

OPEN ACCESS at - https://www.int-res.com/articles/feature/d143p205.pdf 

Assessing North Atlantic right whale health: threats, and development of 
tools critical for conservation of the species

Michael J. Moore, Teresa K. Rowles, Deborah A. Fauquier, Jason D. Baker, 
Ingrid Biedron, John W. Durban, Philip K. Hamilton, Allison G. Henry, 
Amy R. Knowlton, William A. McLellan, Carolyn A. Miller, Richard M. Pace 
III, Heather M. Pettis, Stephen Raverty, Rosalind M. Rolland, Robert S. 
Schick, Sarah M. Sharp, Cynthia R. Smith, Len Thomas, Julie M. van der 
Hoop, Michael H. Ziccardi

ABSTRACT: Whaling has decimated North Atlantic right whales /Eubalaena 
glacialis/ (NARW) since the 11th century and southern right whales /E. 
australis/ (SRW) since the 19th century. Today, NARWs are Critically 
Endangered and decreasing, whereas SRWs are recovering. We review NARW 
health assessment literature, NARW Consortium databases, and efforts and 
limitations to monitor individual and species health, survival, and 
fecundity. Photographs are used to track individual movement and 
external signs of health such as evidence of vessel and entanglement
trauma. Post-mortem examinations establish cause of death and determine 
organ pathology. Photogrammetry is used to assess growth rates and body 
condition. Samples of blow, skin, blubber, baleen and feces quantify 
hormones that provide information on stress, reproduction, and 
nutrition, identify micro - biome changes, and assess evidence of infection.
We also discuss models of the population consequences of multiple 
stressors, including the connection be tween human activities (e.g. 
entanglement) and health. Lethal and sublethal vessel and entanglement 
trauma have been identified as major threats to the species. There is a 
clear and immediate need for expanding trauma reduction measures. Beyond 
these major concerns, further study is needed to evaluate the impact of 
other stressors, such as pathogens, microbiome changes, and algal and 
industrial toxins, on NARW reproductive success and health.

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