Subject: Re: Right Whale

Kim Marshall (kim@whale.org)
Tue, 1 Sep 1998 19:57:18 -0400

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>