Whales are 'dying due to an increase in online shopping'
Whales are being driven out into the ocean due to climate change and end up in the path of cargo ships carrying goods for online shoppers.
Almost two dozen whales have washed up dead along the US east coast since December, The New York Times has reported.
Increases in online shopping have meant that cargo ships are more frequent in the shipping lanes.
In recent months, 23 whales have washed up dead on the coastline, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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Lauren Gaches, of fishing monitoring agency NOAA Fisheries, said: "We're seeing populations of many marine species adapting by moving into new areas where conditions are more favourable.
"Changing distributions of prey impact larger marine species that depend on them. This can lead to increased interactions with humans as some whales move closer to near-shore habitats."
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has seen ship traffic rise by 27% compared to 2019, driven in part by rising levels of online shopping.
Erica Fuller, of the Conservation Law Foundation, said: "Since 2017, at least 95 critically endangered right whales have been killed or injured by preventable human causes.
"Yet nothing has been done to reduce deadly vessel strikes. Right whales have been on this planet for millions of years and we are at risk of losing this entire species because of bureaucratic red tape.
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"That cannot be allowed to continue."
Recent research has shown that whales are also falling victim to microplastic pollution, with blue whales eating up to 10 million pieces of microplastic every single day.
The largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth ingest up to 96 lb of microplastic daily, the study published in the Nature Communications journal suggested.
Scientists found the whales predominantly feed 165-800 feet below the surface, a depth that coincides with the highest concentrations of microplastic in the open ocean. Their study focused on blue, fin and humpback whales.
The authors combined measures of microplastic concentrations up and down the water column off the coast of California with detailed logs of where hundreds of whales carrying tracking devices foraged for food between 2010 and 2019.
Study co-author Matthew Savoca, a postdoctoral scholar at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University's marine laboratory on the Monterey Peninsula, said: "They're lower on the food chain than you might expect by their massive size, which puts them closer to where the plastic is in the water.
'There’s only one link – the krill eat the plastic, and then the whale eats the krill."
Humpback whales subsisting primarily on fish such as herring and anchovies ingest an estimated 200,000 pieces of microplastic per day, while those eating mostly krill ingest at least one million pieces.
Fin whales, which feed on both krill and fish, ingest an estimated three to 10 million microplastic pieces per day.
Watch: Thousands of starlings appear to take form of whale