Thursday, August 23, 2007

North Atlantic Right Whales Are Severely Endangered
If you've followed the story of the North Atlantic Right Whale, you know that the future of this marine mammal is in serious question. Right Whales are severely endangered; current estimates indicate that the population sits at around 350, a dangerously low population number for any species.

The Right Whale received its name because whalers in the previous three centuries believed they were the "right" whales to kill due to their one foot thick layer of blubber that makes them buoyant after they are killed. They could be strapped to the side of a boat and easily dragged back to shore. The whales are also very slow swimmers and mothers are extremely protective of their young, thus making them even easier targets for the whalers.

Today, the greatest threat to the Right Whale is shipping. The whales travel in the most heavily trafficked shipping lanes on the eastern coast of North America. Females migrate from the Bay of Fundy area to the southern waters off the coast of Georgia or Florida to bear their young and must again travel north (with calf in tow) to their feeding grounds. The journey is very dangerous--strikes by large ships as well as entanglements are the leading cause of death, according to the Ocean Conservancy. The death of one individual whale has severe consequences for the future of the species.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can help make the oceans a safer place for all marine life, visit the Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Action Network site. To learn more about the status of Right Whales, visit the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium site (OceanSpot has no affiliation with these organizations, but supports their efforts to improve the conditions of our oceans around the world. Photo in this post is courtesy of the New England Aquarium.)