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Humpback Whale Dies in Belize’s Waters

The death of a humpback whale in Belizean waters has caught the attention of Non-Governmental Organizations such as Oceana. The first humpback whale spotted in Belize was in February of this year and tonight that whale has been confirmed dead by fishermen in Barranco Village. There are only 80,000 of these magnificent creatures swimming in the sea. Multiple sighting of the whale has taken place on Big Creek Port, Sciopio Caye, Port of Honduras Reserve and Riversdale. Local scientists believe the whale was lost or sick. Efforts are currently underway to attempt a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death. When Oceana personnel traveled to Barranco last Friday, the whale was in obvious distress. It was observed that the whale’s movement was being hampered by a gill net wrapped around its tail. The net appeared to be the property of foreign fishermen who apparently returned to the scene during the night to recover their property. Fishermen from the area reported to Oceana that with the number of illegal gillnets being used in Belizean waters, it was only a matter of time before the whale became entangled.  Oceana’s president Janelle Chanona stated in a press release “Gillnets may look innocuous, but as this incident highlights, even a whale can become entangled in and affected by a gillnet. Repeated incidents involving protected and endangered species as well as charismatics continue to reveal the indiscriminate nature of these nets. In 2016, as Belize works towards sustainability and good governance, we can, and should, stop using gillnets.” End of quote. Humpback whales are known to travel great distances during migration season. The whales travel to tropical and subtropical waters to breed and give birth. Weighing in at more than 79,000 pounds, the whales live on a diet of krill and small fish and can grow to more than 50 feet. The Humpback was once a target for whalers and the population was pushed to the brink of extinction until a moratorium was declared in 1966. They can live for 50 years but Humpbacks continue to be negatively impacted by entanglement in fishing gear, ship collisions and noise pollution.