Quantcast

One of the World’s Most Endangered Whales Is Experiencing a Mini Baby Boom

Animals
EgNo 4180 and her 2019 calf photographed by the CCS aerial survey team in Cape Cod Bay on April 11. CCS image, NOAA permit 19315-1

One of the rarest species of whale in the world is experiencing a mini-baby boom off the coast of New England, lending hope to the survival of the once-imperiled population.


With just over 400 known individuals left, the North Atlantic right whale was once decimated virtually to extinction by commercial whalers by the early 1890s, leading to their 1970 listing under the Endangered Species Act. Hopes for their recovery were dismal last year after researchers did not report any new calves last summer. However, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) right whale aerial team now says they spotted two mother and calf pairs in Cape Cod Bay. The two mothers, dubbed EgNo4180 and EgNo3317, bring the total number of new calves off the coast of Massachusetts this year to three.

EgNo4180 was first spotted in 2010, indicating that she is at least nine years old. She was seen again last April, but researchers were not aware that she was pregnant at the time — or that she was indeed a female. Unfortunately, at some point between then and now she encountered gear and was most recently seen with new entanglement wounds on her back, reports CCS. The other new mother, EgNo3317, was born in late 2002 to another known whale who was also spotted in the bay this year. After making a final appearance in 2003, she did not return to Cape Cod Bay until 2016, which was the last time she had a calf.

North Atlantic right whales give birth in the southern states of Georgia and Florida during the winter before traveling north to their vital feeding grounds of New England to feed in the early spring. Weighing up to 70 tons and reaching a lifespan of up to 70 years, the massive whales are baleen feeders and survive by feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill and fish.

Major threats to their species today include entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, ocean noise, climate and ecosystem change, disturbance from whale watching activities, and a lack of food, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Particularly worrisome are collisions with ships, which has prompted NOAA to establish the North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (RWSAS) in order to alert vessel-goers to the presence of right whales. Regulations established speed restrictions of 10 knots for all vessels with a length of 65 feet or longer within designated high-risk areas along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard where right whales predictably and consistently visit every year. Though the animals come close to shore during their feeding season, it is Illegal to get within 1,500 feet of the animals without a federal research permit.

"However, the right whales often feed very close to shore, offering whale watchers on land unbeatable views of one of the rarest of the marine mammals," wrote CCS.

There are three species of right whale around the world and only one that is rarer than the North Atlantic: The North Pacific. NOAA reports there are likely fewer than 200 left.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

David Gilmour performs at Anfiteatro Scavi di Pomei on July 7, 2016 in Pompei, Italy. Francesco Prandoni / Redferns / Getty Images

David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a forum April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Protestors and police stand on ether side of railway tracks. dpa / picture-alliance

Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Cecilie_Arcurs / E+ / Getty Images

By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon

The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cigarette butts are the most-littered item found at beach clean ups. John R. Platt

By Tara Lohan

By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.

Read More Show Less

Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust

By Fran Korten

On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.

Read More Show Less
Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday. SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube screenshot

Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday as they demanded the paper improve its coverage of the climate crisis, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less