North Atlantic right whales have been roaming the ocean for thousands of years. Over 800 years of extensive hunting for their valuable baleen and oil resulted in a significant decline in their population. Despite being protected internationally since 1935, the species is still hovering on the brink of extinction - only about 400 remain. Along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States, North Atlantic right whales are now facing a new threat: the urbanization of the ocean where they feed, socialize, mate, migrate and give birth to their calves 1.
Most of the known individual North Atlantic right whales have been seen at least once in Canadian waters and many are seen every summer and fall. The Bay of Fundy, for instance, is an important feeding and nursery ground where more than 100 right whales are photographed each summer. Roseway Basin off Nova Scotia and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are also important habitats. Canadians have taken a leading role in right whale recovery.
North Atlantic right whale raising its
smooth-edged, all-black tail high
out of the water.
Rightwhale.ca was created to highlight and publicize ongoing conservation and stewardship efforts for right whales in Canadian waters. These measures, implemented to advance species recovery, include actions taken to reduce the potential for collisions between right whales and vessels, and emergency response to free whales entangled in fishing gear. Rightwhale.ca strives to provide scientific information on right whales for policy makers and the general public. For example, this website will be used for the exchange of information among those fishermen and biologists developing modifications to fishing practices to reduce the incidence of entanglement.
The combined support of the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, the Canadian Whale Institute and the New England Aquarium has made rightwhale.ca possible.
1 Kraus, S. D. and R. M. Rolland (eds.). 2007. The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA.