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ones may have died. A data bank of pictures of each whale is kept as a reference so that

someday, just as we were the reason their population had become almost extinct, we may be able

to also be the reason their species might flourish again.

This type of animal is hard to track because it lives in the water and is dark colored, which

makes them difficult to see. It is thanks to the callosities that grow on the heads that never

change placement or shape that we are able to identify them individually. There are two types of

tagging systems used to track the whales. Although the satellite transmission system is expensive

and has a short battery life, it is still a very helpful way to follow the animals. Other than the use

of satellite, there is a radio transmitter system that is also helpful, although it is also limited

because it can only be of use when tracking from a plane or a boat.

Global Positioning System or GPS is the satellite type of tracking that is used to follow the

Northern Right Whales. The radio transmitter system is less expensive but not as accurate and

accessible as the satellite system, which can pinpoint where in the ocean a whale is, within

meters. Getting the tag to attach to the whales has proved difficult because they have smooth wet

skin. When GPS is used to track animals on land, "All species of mammal >8kg body mass can

be fitted with GPS collars."1 8

It is easier to attach the tags to other animals such as turtles and

birds because turtles have a hard shell and birds have feathers. A satellite tag is attached to a

whale by penetrating it's blubber about 10 centimeters at the top by its blowhole. The methods

used to attach the tags and the production of the tags themselves still need some work.

Researchers have found that the tag falls off of the whale soon after it is attached. To have the

tags just be floating to the bottom of the ocean is too expensive to keep replacing at around 5,000

dollars apiece.

18 http://www.blueskytelemetry.co.uk/.