North Atlantic Right Whales

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 by Jessica

There are lots of different marine mammals that live in the Gulf of Maine, but one of the coolest are the North Atlantic Right Whales. They can be spotted in the water from the V shaped blow that is visible at the surface when they come up to breathe. Once you get closer to these whales, you can see their black bodies that have no dorsal fin. They also usually have callosities on their heads, which are raised patches of rough skin that are white in color. They normally are around 50 feet in length, and are thought that they can live to be at least 70 years old.

Right whales migrate into the Gulf of Maine in the spring and summer to filter different types of zooplankton through their baleen to feed. While these whales can be found in the Gulf of Maine, they are really hard to find because there are so few of them left. Right whales are an endangered species, classified as nearly extinct, with their population thought to be as low as 450 animals. There are many different threats that right whales currently face, but their population initially became so low due to commercial whaling. Many different people hunted these whales because of how slowly they move, and because they float at the surface after they have died, making it so that it was easier to harvest them. Currently, right whales face threats of ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and degradation of their habitat. There are many different steps that are being taken to help protect these whales, including a moratorium on whaling, vessel speed restrictions in areas that they frequent, diverting shipping routes, and modifications to fishing gear in the areas that they are found. While these whales face a tough road ahead of them, many scientists are hopeful that if the necessary steps are taken, their population can slowly grow back over time.

 Have you ever seen a whale before? Check out this link to Maine Public Radio to find stories to learn more about the whales that we see in the Gulf of Maine.

North Atlantic Right Whales


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