Having been within twenty feet of a North Atlantic right whale while sea kayaking, we can attest to the magnificence of this severely stressed and endangered creature. From the website of Whale and Dolphin Conservation:
North American WDC executive director Regina Aasmutis-Silvia expanded on the crisis in a recent Living On Earth interview, excerpted below:
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has developed an “on call” buoy that would at least mitigate the problem of fixed-line entanglements:
Partan and Ball call their new device an “on-call” buoy. It looks like a giant spool of bright orange thread. On land, the 3.5-foot-high spool with 2,000 feet of line wound around it weighs 340 pounds, but in water, it’s buoyant and floats near the bottom attached to the lobster traps. With a timer or an acoustic signal, the device can be activated to unspool its line and float up to the surface for retrieval.
“Our system is to try to store the vertical line on the seafloor—keeping the lines out of the way of large swimming animals—until the fishing vessel crew releases it and is on site and ready to haul it in,” Partan said.
The technology is listed as “patent pending”. Will it be too little, too late? Unfortunately, we will know the answer to that question within the next few years.