BOSTON — Scientists have developed a video simulation of how whales become entangled in fishing lines, and say the technology could help lead to new and safer gear designs.

The New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life says more than eight in 10 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales become ensnared by fishing lines, and nearly six in 10 are entangled more than once.

Entanglements are a leading cause of right whale deaths. Experts estimate there are no more than 440 animals left on the planet, and the species’ future is bleak because of heavy mortality and poor reproduction in recent years.

Aquarium scientist Tim Werner says the video simulation has helped his team better understand how whales unwittingly – and often lethally – wrap themselves in the ropes.

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