North Atlantic Right Whale


The Life of Animals | North Atlantic Right Whale | The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) which means "good, or true, whale of the ice") is a baleen whale, one of three right whale species belonging to the genus Eubalaena formerly classified as a single species. With only 400 in existence, North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales in the world.


About four hundred right whales live in the North Atlantic Ocean. Like other right whales, the North Atlantic right whale is readily distinguished from other whales by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. The right whale's callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids or whale lice. Adult right whales average 45–55 feet (14–17 m) in length and weigh up to seventy tons (63,500 kg); the largest measured specimens have been 60 feet (18 m) long and 117 tonnes (115 long tons; 129 short tons). Forty percent of a right whale's body weight is blubber, which is of relatively low density. Consequently, unlike many other species of whale, dead right whales float.

Right whales were so-named because whalers thought they were the "right" whale to hunt. As the "right" whale continued to float long after being killed, which made it possible to 'flech' or strip the whale of blubber without having to take it onboard ship. Shore whaling continued sporadically into the 19th century. By 1750, the North Atlantic right whale population was, for commercial purposes, depleted. The population was so low by the mid-19th century that the famous Whitby whaler Rev. William Scoresby, son of the successful British whaler William Scoresby senior (1760-1829), claimed to have never seen a right whale

As it became clear that hunting right whales was unsustainable, international protection for right whales came into effect, as the practice was banned globally in 1937. Madeira took its last two right whales in 1968.For the period of 1970 to October 2006, humans have been responsible for 48% of the 73 documented mortalities of the North Atlantic right whale A 2001 forecast showed a declining population trend in the late 1990s, and indicated a high probability that North Atlantic Right Whales would go extinct within 200 years if the then-existing anthropogenic mortality rate was not curtailed The combined factors of small population size and low annual reproductive rate of right whales means that a single death represents a significant mortality rate. It was calculated that preventing the deaths of just two females per year would enable the population to stabilize The data suggests, therefore, that human sources of mortality may have a greater effect relative to population growth rates of North Atlantic right whales than for other whales.


According to a census of individual whales identified using photo-identification techniques, the latest available stock assessment data (December 2010) indicates that a minimum of 361 recognized individuals were known to be alive in 2005 Up to four hundred North Atlantic right whales are thus thought to exist at present, almost all living in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Particularly popular feeding areas are the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay. It was later revealed that this animal, which was named as "Pico", is a female from the western Atlantic group Right whales have rarely been observed in the Mediterranean Sea, near Italy and Portugal The Norway sightings appear to be of strays from the western Atlantic stock In 2009, right whales appeared in waters around Greenland  although their origin was not confirmed Prior to this, no right whales had been killed or confirmed present off the coast of Greenland for around two hundred years. In early 2009, scientists recorded a record number of births among the western North Atlantic population. 39 new calves were recorded, born off the Atlantic coast of Florida and Georgia."Right whales, for the first time in a long time, are doing their part: they're having the babies; they're having record numbers of babies," said Monica Zani, an assistant scientist at the New England Aquarium who works with right whales.


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