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The Guardian Weekly - 2021-06-11

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Whales are shrinking due to fishing gear entanglements

Global Report

Whales in the North Atlantic are shrinking in size, researchers have found, with entanglements in fishing gear blamed for the steady decline in the length of the animals over recent generations. On average, a right whale born today is expected to reach a total length that is about a metre shorter than one born 40 years ago. The study, published in Current Biology, suggests that North Atlantic right whales are suffering from being snared in fishing nets and lines set to catch other species. The fishing gear saps the strength of the whales, preventing them from using their energy to pile on weight and length. Last year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature announced the species was just one step from extinction, shifting its classification from “endangered” to “critically endangered”.

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