National Report on Large Whale Entanglements Confirmed in the United States in 2021
This report provides a summary of large whale entanglements that occurred in U.S. waters in 2021.
There were 70 confirmed cases nationally in 2021. This is more than the 53 confirmed large whale entanglement cases in 2020. We don’t know what factors may be responsible for the increase in 2021.However, some COVID-19 restrictions (e.g., social distancing) were starting to relax as compared to 2020. As restrictions eased, fishing effort increased, and there were more ocean goers. This could have led to more reports of entangled large whales. The increase in confirmed reports could also reflect the number of entangled large whales in 2021.
The 70 confirmed large whale entanglements in 2021 is below the average annual number of confirmed entanglements over the previous 14 years (annual average was 72). We will continue to analyze data from 2021 to understand whether this dip in confirmed large whale entanglements is temporary (potentially attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic), or part of a longer term downward trend.