The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD -

Ma­rine sci­en­tists are alarmed by the deaths of six en­dan­gered North At­lantic right whales in Cana­dian wa­ters dur­ing the past three weeks and say hu­mans must help pro­tect them.

North At­lantic right whales are among the most en­dan­gered large mam­mals on Earth, with only about 500 still alive. Mark Baum­gart­ner, an as­so­ciate sci­en­tist with the Woods Hole Oceano­graphic In­sti­tute on Cape Cod, said Fri­day the deaths are a “mor­tal­ity dis­as­ter.”

The loss of so many right whales so quickly was prob­a­bly last seen when whal­ing dec­i­mated their pop­u­la­tion dur­ing the 19th cen­tury, Baum­gart­ner said. He said hu­mans need to do more to pro­tect the an­i­mals. One of the six whales was en­tan­gled in snow crab fish­ing gear.

Sci­en­tists with Woods Hole and the An­der­son Cabot Cen­ter for Ocean Life at the New Eng­land Aquar­ium in Bos­ton em­pha­sized that so many deaths in such a short time pe­riod can jeop­ar­dize the pop­u­la­tion of an an­i­mal that is so rare.

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