Subject: Right whale migration

Tokitae (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 09:29:07 -0500 (EST)

I am an ecology major at the University of Manitoba (Canada) and I am
interested in information about the Right whales and their previous and
current range in the sea, after the whalers presence. I would greatly
appreciate your help!

Little is known about the population size or migratory range of right whales
prior to commercial whaling, because large-scale whaling began over 300
years before demographic studies began on right whales around 20 years ago.
One of the economic mainstays of the earliest European settlers in the
American colonies of the 1600's was the killing of "the right whales" to
obtain baleen for products like buggy whips and corset stays. The blubber
fueled the lamps that lit Europe until fossil fuels and electricity came
into use. There was once an Atlantic gray whale, but they were exterminated
in the early 1700's.

The 300 or so Atlantic right whales' current range is primarily up and down
the east coast of the US, into the northern reaches of the Gulf of Maine in
summer and down to the coasts of the Georgia and Florida in winter. In the
Pacific, right whales are believed to be so scarce that they may all
disappear in the very near future. An amazing photograph taken, I believe,
in 1996, shows four right whales in the Bering Sea, including one calf. This
is first right whale calf spotted in the Pacific in decades.

Howard Garrett
PAWS Lolita Campaign Coordinator