Whale conservationists and the sports organization U.S. Sailing are partnering to help to prevent sailboat collisions with whales. The new program trains sailors to safely navigating whale habitats.
Monica Pepe of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a nonprofit based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, said these collisions can be dangerous for both the animals and sailors.
“Last year there were two competitive sailors that actually had to abandon their boats because they were taking on water, and that was a direct result of collisions with whales,” Pepe said. “So it’s a human safety risk for sure.”
In the past month, six right whales have been found dead in the North Atlantic. Two were struck by boats.
For the endangered species, that’s more than 1% of the global population.
Robert Kenney studies whales and other marine mammals at the University of Rhode Island, and says the right whale population won’t be able to replace itself this year.
“We’ve already had more known dead than the number of calves born this year,” Kenney explained.
Organizers are calling the program Sharing the Seas.