"Government scientists believe they have some good news about the endangered right whale, whose population in the Atlantic Ocean is struggling to come back.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday they have found evidence of a significant right whale population in waters off the southern tip of Greenland. The whale was thought to have largely disappeared from that area decades ago. Only two of the whales have been sighted in the area in the last 50 years.
But now scientists, over a year-long period, recorded 2,000 whale calls from underwater listening devices in the area. No whales were sighted.
There are 300 to 400 North Atlantic right whales off the U.S. Atlantic coast. It is not known whether the newly discovered whales in an area known as the Cape Farewell Ground, 200 miles to 400 miles (320 kilometers to 640 kilometers) off Greenland, are a separate population of right whales or ones that migrated from U.S. waters.
The discovery raises the possibility that the eastern North Atlantic right whale population, believed by many to be extinct, may still exist, said David Mellinger, a chief scientist at NOAA who presented the team's findings Wednesday at an Acoustical Society of America meeting in Portland, Oregon."
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For those of you interested in more information concerning right whales here is some I have colllected for you.
Right whales are the species of large baleen whales belonging to the genus Eubalaena. Baleen whales are characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than having teeth. This distinguishes them from the other suborder of cetaceans, the toothed whales or Odontoceti. Living Mysticeti species have teeth only during the embryonal phase.
Right whales can grow up to 18 m (59 ft) long and weigh up to 100 tons. Their rotund bodies are mostly black, with distinctive callosities (roughened patches of skin) on their heads. They are called "right whales" because whalers thought the whales were the "right" ones to hunt, as they float when killed and often swim within sight of the shore. Populations were vastly reduced by intensive harvesting during the active years of the whaling industry.
The four Balaenidae species live in distinct locations. Approximate population figures:
* 300 to 400 North Atlantic Right Whales live in the North Atlantic;
* 50 North Pacific Right Whales live in the eastern North Pacific and perhaps 400-900 more in the Sea of Okhotsk;
* 7,500 Southern Right Whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere;
* 8,000–9,200 Bowhead Whales are distributed entirely in the Arctic Ocean.
Right whales are easily distinguished from other whales by the callosities on their heads, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. The body of the whale is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly. The right whale's callosities appear white, not due to skin pigmentation, but to large colonies of cyamids or whale lice.Very little is known about the life span of right whales because they are so scarce scientists cannot really study them. (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_whale)
The right whales' diet consists primarily of zooplankton, primarily the tiny crustaceans called copepods, as well as krill, and pteropods, although they are occasionally opportunistic feeders. They feed by "skimming" along with their mouth open. Water and prey enters the mouth but only the water can pass through the baleen and out again into the open sea. Thus, for a right whale to feed, the prey must occur in sufficient numbers to trigger the whale's interest; be large enough that the baleen plates can filter it; and be small enough that it does not have the speed to escape.
The leading cause of death among the North Atlantic Right Whale, which migrates through some of the world's busiest shipping lanes whilst journeying off the east coast of the United States and Canada, is injury sustained from being struck by ships.A second major cause of morbidity and mortality in the North Atlantic Right Whale is entanglement in fishing gear.
The Southern Right Whale, listed as "endangered" by CITES and "lower risk - conservation dependent" by the IUCN, is protected in the jurisdictional waters of all countries with known breeding populations (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay). In Brazil, a federal Environmental Protection Area encompassing some 1,560 km2 (600 sq mi) and 130 km (81 mi) of coastline in Santa Catarina State was established in 2000 to protect the species' main breeding grounds in Brazil and promote regulated whale watching.
This information is contradicted at the following website:http://www.acsonline.org/factpack/RightWhale.htm where it is stated:
"The right whale is extremely endangered, even after years of protected status."
On 2006-06-26, NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan) proposed the Strategy to Reduce Ship Strikes to North Atlantic Right Whales. The proposal, which was opposed by some shipping interests, envisaged imposing a speed cap of 10 knots (19 km/h) on specific routes during calving season for vessels 65 feet (20 m) or longer. According to the NOAA, 25 of the 71 right whale deaths reported since 1970 resulted from ship strikes. The proposal was implemented in 2008.
The right whale's skin is usually black to dark gray with white and/or brown patches. Calves are blue to gray colored.
Right whales have no dorsal fin and no throat grooves. They have large flippers.
Right whales live in temperate and cool seas in both hemispheres at the surface of the ocean. Southern right whales live at latitudes between 20°-55° but will occasionally venture down to 63°. Right whales may have a life expectancy of over 60 years, although this figure is not at all certain (very little is known about these whales). (source:http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Rightwhale.shtml)
Right whales are among the slowest swimming whales, although they may reach speeds up to 10 mph (17 km/hr) in short spurts. They can dive to at least 1,000 ft. and can stay submerged up to 40 minutes.
In Canada and the United States, The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium exists. This group of governmental and non-governmental agencies.work to study and conserve North Atlantic Right Whales. The Consortium has established this website http://www.rightwhaleweb.org/
where you can read facts about Right Whales and access other websites devoted to Right Whales.