Sightings of whale breaches have decreased at an alarming rate, due to a confluence of factors including warming waters and the fishing industry, according to members of College of the Atlantic's <a href="/allied-whale/">Allied Whale</a>.Sightings of whale breaches have decreased at an alarming rate, due to a confluence of factors including warming waters and the fishing industry, according to members of College of the Atlantic's Allied Whale. Credit: Tom Fernald/North Atlantic Humpback Whale CatalogThis chunk of rock, about 25 nautical miles from Bar Harbor, is part of a global effort to track and learn more about one of the sea’s most majestic and endangered creatures. So far this year, the small number of sightings here have underscored the growing perils along the East Coast to both humpback whales and North Atlantic right whales.

This past summer, the numbers of humpback whales identified from the rock were abysmal — the team saw only eight instead of the usual dozens. Fifty-three humpbacks have died in the last 19 months, many after colliding with boats or fishing gear.

The Gulf of Maine is warming rapidly — at one of the fastest rates on earth — and the temperature change might be causing shifts along the food chain, said Dan DenDanto, station manager at College of the Atlantic’s Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock. As the whales follow food sources into new areas, they wander into the paths of ships and into fishing gear.

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