Subject: Right Whale population

Martine Berube (martine@sbs.bangor.ac.uk)
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 15:05:41 GMT

At 04.53 PM 21-03-1999 +0000, you wrote:
>Hi!
>I'm a high school student currently doing a science project on northern
>right whales. I would like to know the population figures for the last
>10 years or so. If anyone there has access to these figures and can give
>them to me, it would be greatly appreciated!!
>Thanks, Katie Wood
>

Dear Katie, 
A table is presented at the following website:
http://www.seaworld.org/baleen_whales/estimatesbw.html.

In addition, here is the abstract of the most recent paper discussing the
Northern right whale and its decline. I hope you can find it at your library.

Caswell, H., M. Fujiwara, and S. Brault.  1999.  Declining
survival probability threatens the North Atlantic right whale.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 96:3308-3313.

Abstract

The North Atlantic northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is
considered the most endangered large whale species.  Its
population has recovered only slowly since the cessation of
commercial whaling, and numbers about 300 individuals.  We
applied mark-recapture statistics to a catalog of
photographically identified individuals, to obtain the first
statistically rigorous estimates of survival probability for this
population.  Crude survival decreased from about 0.99 per year in
1980 to about 0.94 in 1994.  We combined this survival trend with
a reported decrease in reproductive rate into a branching process
model to compute population growth rate and extinction
probability.  Population growth rate declined from about 1.053 in
1980 to about 0.976 in 1994.  Under current conditions the
population is doomed to extinction; an upper bound on the
expected time to extinction is 191 years.  The most effective
way to improve the prospects of the population is to reduce
mortality.  The right whale is at risk from entanglement in
fishing gear and from collisions with ships.  Reducing this
human-caused mortality is essential to the viability of this
population.

Martine Berube
School of Biological Sciences 		    
University of Wales - Bangor                
Deiniol Road, Bangor 		
Gwynedd LL57 2UW 		
Wales, United Kingdom		
Phone 	+44 1 248 38 22 96
Fax     +44 1 248 38 28 25
E-mail: martine@sbs.bangor.ac.uk