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Right Whale Returns From Brink of Extinction Thanks to Cooperation

A simple tweak to shipping lanes has brought the North Atlantic right whale back from the brink of extinction and into New Brunswick waters.

Once near extinction, the whale has recovered in numbers because the Canadian oil company Irving Oil agreed 10 years ago to reroute shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy so that they did not run through the whale’s feeding grounds, the Canadian Press reported on June 10.

Since then the whale’s population has grown about two percent each year and has now risen to more than 450 from 350, said Moira Brown, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium in Boston, to the Canadian Press.

“The animals were so few in number when we started doing this that we were literally trying to reduce mortality one whale at a time,” Brown told the news service. “So this is huge.”

Working with the aquarium, the company moved the shipping lanes a mere four miles or so away, and that seems to have done the trick, reducing the collision rate between whales and ships by 90 percent, Brown said.

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Right Whale Returns From Brink of Extinction Thanks to Cooperation

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