COA Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences Dr. Sean Todd.COA Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences Dr. Sean Todd.The plight of the North Atlantic right whale has steadily made its way into Maine news. One of the world’s most endangered large whale species, the population of about 400 is shrinking due to increasing mortality and lower birth rates. Stakeholders, including Maine’s lobster industry, have implemented numerous measures over the years to mitigate human impacts, which include fishing line entanglement, ship strikes, and underwater noise pollution. Efforts to further reduce impacts continue today.

To better understand the population’s importance to the marine ecosystem, we turned to marine mammal expert Dr. Sean Todd, director of Allied Whale and COA Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences.

The Working Waterfront: What factors contribute to our understanding of the importance of saving the North Atlantic right whale?

Sean Todd: First is the biological mandate. They are a sentinel species. Right whales are highly responsive to environmental change, so we can use them as indicators of the health of the environment.

Second is the legal imperative. “We the people” agreed that we value marine mammals to the point where we think they should be protected. The legislation is designed to rebuild those stocks back to where they should be naturally.

Third is the ethical mandate…

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