North Atlantic right whale
A crew from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and partner agencies collect the tissue of a dead North Atlantic right whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in an undated photo. Reuters

The North Atlantic right whales may soon become extinct as no new births have been recorded, experts have warned.

According to a report in the Guardian, the scientists who observed a whale community off the U.S. coast have not recorded any new births in the right whale population. The report also stated that a huge number of right whale deaths were recorded in 2017.

Scientists have, therefore, said that a blend of the rising mortality rate and the declining fertility rate is resulting in the extinction of the right whales. They predicted that at this rate, the whales would become extinct by 2040.

“At the rate, we are killing them off, this 100 females will be gone in 20 years,” Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts said adding that the North Atlantic right whales will be functionally extinct by 2040 if no action is undertaken to protect them.

Speaking of North Atlantic whales, Baumgartner said the population of these whales was quite healthy about seven years ago. However, it soon began to decline after lobster fishermen began fishing in the waters.

He explained that the whales tend to get entangled in the fishing net, with many getting killed, and others starving or being unable to swim properly, thus resulting in a decline in their population over the years.

"Lobster and crab fishing and whales are able to comfortably co-exist. We are trying to propose solutions, it’s urgent,” Baumgartner argued.

He also suggested the U.S. government should intervene, regulate the fishing industry, and implement measures to save the North Atlantic whale population.

Last year in December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that about 450 North Atlantic right whales were alive in 2017 after 16 of them died the same year.

“You do have to use the extinction word because that’s where the trend lines say they are,” John Bullard, north-east regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries said. “That’s something we can’t let happen.”

"We are very concerned about the future of North Atlantic right whales. We lost 16 right whales in U.S. and Canadian waters this year. This is troubling for a population of about 450, particularly because we estimate that only about 105 of those are breeding females who are producing fewer calves," Barb Zoodsma, a right whale biologist for NOAA Fisheries said in November last year.

Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant for NOAA said the U.S. and the Canadian governments must act together in reducing the human-related whale deaths in the region.

“The current status of the right whales is a critical situation and using our available resources to recover right whales is of high importance and high urgency,” Murray-Brown said.