Question: We have been given a school assignment to describe the difference between Sperm Whales, Blue Whales, and Right Whales. However, we cannot find any reference at all to Right Whales. Can you possibly point us to any information concerning this subject? TJ Gravely (4th grade) Response: <fontfamily><param>Symbol</param><bigger>=85 </bigger></fontfamily><bigger><underline><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>= Right Whales</fontfamily></underline><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>The right whale is the rarest of the large baleen whales. Formerly abundant on the east and west coasts of every continent, they now number 250-300 in the North Atlantic, more than 1000 off Argentina, 500-600 off South Africa and several hundred off Australia and in the North Pacific. Worldwide there may be about 3000 (about 1% of their presumed original number).</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>They have been protected from commercial whaling by international agreement since 1937, but were occasionally taken in "scientific kills" by Japan, poached by Russia, Korea and Chile, and hunted in a small industry off Southern Brazil, which was said to have stopped in 1974.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>They were considered the "right" whales to kill since they gather in large numbers close to shore, are slow swimmers, have valuable and abundant oil and whalebone (baleen), and unlike many species, they float when dead.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>The population off Argentina is one of the largest in the world, and appears to be growing by 6-7% annually. Right whales off the east coast of the USA are often hit by ships, and nearly half the population have scars from vessel strikes or entanglements in fishing gear.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Since 1970, non-lethal techniques have been used to study right whales. Whale Conservation Institute (WCI) Senior Scientist Roger Payne discovered that individual right whales have unique patterns of callosities on the top of their heads which make them recognizable. WCI also developed techniques for studying right whales from land and for measuring and calculating the age of individuals. WCI has learned that females give birth to calves every three years on average, and we now know three generations of whales off Argentina.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>A right whale calf is about 12 feet at birth and weighs around one ton. Along the Argentine coast, females calve and raise their young in the protected bays of the Peninsula Valdes, returning to the peninsula waters in their calf-bearing years (usually every third year). For this reason there are fairly distinct populations of females utilizing the calving grounds in successive years. The males, however, return each year.=20 The mothers stay close to shore, lying quietly at the surface while their calves rest or frolic about them. Most calves are weaned at about 6 months of age.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Right whales migrate between feeding and breeding grounds, but probably never across the equator. For example, right whales bear young off Argentina and swim south to feed in Antarctic waters. Northwest Atlantic right whales calve off Florida and Georgia and swim north to feed off Maine and Nova Scotia.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Right whales eat plankton , small organisms living in the upper layers of the ocean.=20 They sieve food through the mat of fine hairs fringing their long baleen plates. Right whales have the finest of all baleen fringes and specialize in eating the smallest plankton. They may also feed near the bottom.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Beneath their skin, right whales have a thick blubber coat which is probably of more importance for energy for energy storage than it is as insulation.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Right whales probably live about 50 years or more. Killer whales are an occasional predator, though human-related deaths are the most prevalent: hunting, ship strikes, net entanglements and pollution.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>Sometime right whales will approach boats. They play with kelp (seaweed), moored boats and other floating objects and interact with dolphins and seals. They also sail, holding their flukes out of the water and allow the wind to slowly push them along. This appears to be a game.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>The closest terrestrial relative of whales appear to be hippos.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Palatino</param>There is still so much we do not know about right whales. We are continuing to develop new and promising techniques to learn more. Our long term data base of known individuals is a unique and valuable resource. Knowing individual life histories and relatedness is giving us insights into a right whale's needs and puts us in a good position to learn more and thus to ensure better protection of one of the most endangered baleen whale species.</fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Symbol</param>=85 </fontfamily><fontfamily><param>Times</param> </fontfamily></bigger>Also - please reference the WhaleNet pages ie: bibliographies for more information on right whales and other species. Good luck with your project! <italic><fontfamily><param>Courier</param>Kim Marshall-Tilas =20 (781) 259-0423 Whale Conservation Institute fax: 259-0288 191 Weston Road website: http://www.whale.org/ Lincoln, MA 01773 WCI is a member funded and focused organization. Membership has its privileges . . .</fontfamily></italic>