According to the recent study, the climate-driven changes rippling throughout the Gulf of Maine have serious consequences for the small number of remaining right whales
. Climate change is outdating many of our conservation and management efforts, and it's difficult to keep up with the rapid evolution of this ecosystem
got their name because they were the "right" whale to hunt: they are slow, come close to shore, and float when they are dead.
At present, there are approximately 450 North Atlantic right whales
presumed to be alive, and the threat of extinction is very real.
After centuries of whaling, the right whale
currently occurs as a very threatened population off eastern North America and the grey whale has completely disappeared from the North Atlantic and is now restricted to the North Pacific.
spend much of the year up north, in waters off the coast of the northeastern US and Canada.
The federal government is required by law to protect right whales
. But the measures implemented by regulators over the last few decades have not gone far enough.
"It's a pivotal moment for right whales
," said Barb Zoodsma, who oversees the right whale
recovery program in the U.S.
Scientists have, therefore, said that a blend of the rising mortality rate and the declining fertility rate is resulting in the extinction of the right whales
. They predicted that at this rate, the whales would become extinct by 2040.
North Atlantic right whales
are among the rarest marine mammals in the world, and they have endured a deadly year.
Therefore, considering that grasping and dragging its prey is a common behavior of killer whales and previous attacks on southern right whales
are known (Harris and Garcia, 1986; Jefferson et al., 1991; Sironi et al., 2008), it seems reasonable to assume that the marks found on the calf reported here were produced when the whale was still alive.
Though official handoff is scheduled for the end of the year, some of Watkins' instruments are already displayed in an exhibit in the Jacobs Family Gallery, where four full whale skeletons--including a North Atlantic right whale
mother and unborn calf, killed by a ship strike--float overhead, suspended by cables.