The small population of North Atlantic right whales is in danger of extinction. These whales were hunted nearly to extinction by commercial whalers by the end of the 1700s, but today are at risk from entanglement in fishing gear and boat strikes.
At least 82% of the North Atlantic right whale population has been entangled at least once; evidence shows that individuals often become entangled many times in their lives (Knowlton et al 2011). Between 1980 and 2008, a total of 960 unique right whale entanglements were detected (Knowlton et al 2011). Since the early 1990s, it appears that the severity of entanglements is increasing, and documented mortalities as a consequence of entanglement occur regularly.
Knowlton, AR, PK Hamilton, MK Marx, HM Pettis, and SD Kraus. 2011. Final report on 2007/2008 right whale entanglement scar coding efforts. Final Report to National Marine Fisheries Service. New England Aquarium, Boston, MA.