Delilah, a right whale killed off the coast of Grand Manan 13 years ago, is
displayed at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.
Bay of Fundy right
whale located off North Carolina
Skeleton of whale's other is
on display at New Brunswick Museum
BY MAC TRUEMAN
Allen Morse has
never forgotten the heart-rending sight he and his family came across 13 years
ago off Grand Manan.
Just ahead of their boat, a 30-tonne
Olit whale was thrashing the water in death throes, the victim of a suspected
As the mammoth of the deep fell ti l and
floated snout-up like a dead' d log, the men on the boat watched small calf
slowly swim away.
"I never thought I'd ever hear tell fit
again," Mr. Morse said of the calf, which biologists determined from the men's
photographs was less than eight months old.
But now he
And marine biologists are quietly celebrating a new
chapter in the tragic itory of Delilah, whose 40-foot skele hangs from the
ceiling of the New Brunswick Museum.
Calvin, her calf
that defied expecations of biologists at the New England Aquarium by surviving,
and then by turning out to be female, has come out with a third surprise.
showed up last month off the tip of Johnny Mercer Pier, in Wrightsville Beach,
N.C., with her own newly born calf.
"Is that right," Mr.
While spectators gathered on a nearby
beach, a U.S. Coast Guard crew, responding to a mistaken report that the whale
was entangled in fishing gear, took the photographs with which aquarium staff
have confirmed Calvin's identification.
shows the pattern of callosities (white skin markings) that are unique to each
The location is only 400 kilometres north of
the area where right whales normally winter, in a region that stretches from
Savannah, Ga., to Cape Canaveral, Fla.
"We were excited,"
said Moira Brown, the Canadian senior scientist at the aquarium, located in
"It's a whale we have followed for a long time."
Tony LaCasse, the aquarium's director of communications,
said the real celebration will be if and when the mother-child pair return to
the Bay of Fundy in August.
"It's a statement about the
triumph of life."
But Dr. Brown believes that triumph may
still be a long way away.
"When these mothers and calves
leave Florida, they're swimming up through a very urban ocean which has got
shipping traffic and pollution and fishing gear. They're running the gauntlet,
every single one of them. And Calvin's no different."
if Calvin and her calf make it to the Bay of Fundy, their summer here will be
safer than what Delilah faced in 1992.
The risk to right
whales of being struck by a ship in the Bay of Fundy was reduced by more than
95 per cent when commercial shipping lanes were moved out of the whales'
feeding area in 2003, Mr. LaCasse said.
represents the seventh or eighth right whale born on the east coast so far this
winter, and Dr. Brown is hoping this is a sign of a plentiful calving season
for this extremely endangered species.
There are only 300
right whales in the world, and most of them summer off Grand Manan.
"It looks like another aboveaverage year, but it will be
the end of March before we know that for sure," she said.