Sunday, May 17, 2009

Right Whales: record number of East Coast births

For you whale watchers out there, there's good news regarding the right whales that migrate along the U.S. East Coast. It was reported last week by the New England Aquarium that a record number of calves were reported for this spring. At 39 calves, that's considerable improvement from 2000 when only one calf was born.

The right whale - known by that name because whalers considered it the "right" whale to hunt due to its high level of whale oil and fat - travels nearly 1,000 miles down the East Coast to give birth in the warmer waters of Georgia and Florida. This coastal migration made them any easy target for whalers or even accidental encounters/rammings by ships, adding to their diminished numbers which are as a low as a staggering 400 worldwide.

While still heavily protected or regulated for commercial use, whales have fallen off the public radar compared to their heyday in the 70's. This has enabled countries, like Japan and Norway, with long-standing traditions in commercial whaling to chip away at the current regulations and that is posing a threat to populations of whale species that have improved over the years but are still very tenuous at best.

You can learn more more the current status of whales at large at the American Cetacean Society web site.

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