Info: Phila. Right Whale, Update

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 14 Dec 1994 18:33:58

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From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Info: Phila. Right Whale, Update
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Subj:	Errant Whale 12/14/94
Date:         Wed, 14 Dec 1994 11:52:00 UTC
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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Subject:      Errant Whale 12/14/94
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Errant Whale 12/14/94
 Associated Press Writer
   PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- It perplexed Philadelphia, distressed
Delaware and got the Garden State's goat for more than a week.
   Now a northern right whale that spent the past week swimming up
and down the Delaware River has disappeared and is presumed safe at
sea, experts said Tuesday.
   And researchers at the New England Aquarium positively
identified the young whale as one they've seen before. It's a male,
about 11 months old, that they had named Shackleton after an
antarctic explorer.
   The 29-foot, 25-ton mammal could be on its way to the ocean
around Florida, where right whales winter, or to the waters off
   "I'm certainly pleased with how this appears to have ended,"
said Philip Hamilton, a research assistant with the New England
Aquarium's Right Whale Research Project in Boston.
   "It seems like it's certainly out of the bay," he said.
"There's so many people alerted to it that we'd have heard if
anybody saw it."
   Marine biologists last spotted the whale Saturday afternoon,
about a mile south of Ship John Shoal, Del., near where the
Delaware River widens into Delaware Bay.
   On Sunday, a boat equipped to track a radio tag affixed to the
whale surveyed the river south of the shoal and found nothing. Air
and Coast Guard searches Monday also were fruitless.
   "We'll call it a real happy ending when the animal is sighted
off the bay or in a survey this winter or next summer," said
Daniel Morris, a resource conservation officer at the National
Marine Fisheries Service in Gloucester, Mass. "But it could be
years" before it is spotted.
   Marine mammal experts did not know why the whale entered the
Delaware, where it swam awkwardly up and down and once beached
itself, or why it left.
   The whale spent part of the time with its head up, which experts
said might have meant it was looking at unfamiliar sights along the
shore such as skyscrapers and bridges.
   "It's pretty common for juvenile whales to poke around in some
of the coastal waters and do a little exploring," said Morris.
"It's rare because this is a right whale, (but) it's something
that could happen again."
   Northern right whales, an endangered species found only in the
North Atlantic, have been tracked since the 1930s when efforts to
protect them began. The population has held steady at about 300
since then.
   If the whale is truly free, it probably has little memory of its
inland exploration.
   "These are not the brightest of bulbs in the whale world,"
Scott Kraus, director of the New England Aquarium's right whale
research project, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "This is more
like a cow."