Impact of shipping on whales

Shipping can impact cetacean populations in two ways: collisions with ships and underwater noise pollution.
Collisions with ships are known to injure or kill cetaceans. The North Atlantic right whale is at particular risk, as for some reason they do not seem aware of, or make any effort to avoid, large ships, and as a result a significant number are killed in collisions.

In fact, ship strikes are to blame for 90 percent of Northern right whale deaths for which the cause is known (excluding deaths from natural factors such as old age). However, they are only one of the whale species directly threatened by shipping.

Noise produced by shipping may also be a disturbance to cetaceans, and shipping lanes and ports may exclude whales, dolphins and porpoises from valuable habitat.

WWF is working towards a significant reduction of shipping threats to cetaceans, most notably the reduction of ship collisions with the North Atlantic right whale.
The carcass of a female Northern right whale killed by a ship collision, Nova Scotia, Canada. / ©: Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF
The carcass of a female Northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) killed by a ship collision, Nova Scotia, Canada.
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

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