Each summer for the last two decades, Jim Parker has readied his small whale watch boat, and made a business out of ferrying tourists out into the cool blue waters of the Gulf of Maine. For years, it was… Read More ›
Gulf of Maine
Last year saw an alarming dieoff of North Atlantic right whales, something researchers refer as an “unusual mortality event.” Their carcasses littered the shores of the east coast—12 in Canada and 5 in the United States. Necropsies revealed that most of the animals died from blunt force trauma or entanglement issues. This brings the North Atlantic right whale’s fragile population to an estimated fewer than 500.
The Gulf of Maine stretches from Cape Cod to Canada and is a key marine environment and important to commercial fishing. Blue mussels are used in seafood dishes and worth millions to the economy of some New England states, but are also important in moving bacteria and toxins out of the water.
Two cold winters have given the gulf some breathing space, but climate models and recorded trends indicate our seas are going to keep warming, with the conditions experienced in the “ocean heat wave” becoming the new normal by mid-century. The result will be dramatic changes in an ecosystem Mainers have relied on since the end of the last ice age, ones for which our communities, industries and government are poorly prepared to face.