HOME MINKE RIGHT FINBACK SEI HUMPBACK ORCA BLUE
SUPPORT ETHICS TALES SONGS IMAGES GUESTBOOK LINKS SHARKS


PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM A right whale rises to the surface in this photo shot in the Gulf of Maine. Researchers at the New England Aquarium report a record number of births this winter for the endangered species.

ACTUALITES
Record number of right whale calves discovered

ADAM HURAS
TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL
APR 19/09

    Although their species still teeters on the brink of extinction, a record number of right whale calves have been found in winter nursery waters off the coast of the southeastern United States.
   Moira Brown, a Canadian expert on right whales and a senior scientist with the New England Aquarium in Boston, said the find is extremely encouraging for a still endangered population that numbers approximately 400 animals.
   The discovery of the 38 calves comes as Irving Oil Corp. announced it will renew its sponsorship of the New England Aquarium's right whale research team, with a financial contribution of $50,000 this year.
   Irving has donated more than $400,000 to the team over the past 11 years through annual contributions. Discussions between Brown and Irving officials led to the 2003 decision to shift shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy to protect the right whales.
   "Back when I presented this issue to Irving and their colleagues in the Maritimes, some of the questions centred around if we move the shipping lanes, would the population recover," Brown said.
   "I can't say if that has been the case or not, but it is so important in the long term because it really does get the shipping traffic out of the areas with the highest concentrations of whales."
   In 2003, Canadian and international shipping officials agreed to move shipping lanes in the bay between Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, about four nautical miles east in an effort to reduce the risk of ship strikes.
   This relatively small shift in lanes is believed to have reduced the risk of accidental collisions between right whales and ships by as much as 90 per cent in the Bay of Fundy.
   While Brown does not have concrete evidence as to why the right whale population experienced a baby boom this winter, she said the new whales now have a better chance of surviving.
   The last record year for right whale births was 2001 when there were 31 caves born. Twenty calves have been born each year, on average, since that date.
   The stable birth numbers are encouraging. In 2000, only one calf was born.
   "It's a bumper crop and it doesn't mean they are recovered yet, but, boy, is it a good sign;' Brown said.
   "We have seen better reproductive output, but what we need to see is survival increase.
   The Aquarium's right whale research began about 30 years ago and the past 10 years have been among the most successful and productive.
   "Working with corporations is most important because rather than classically butting our heads, here you have the scientists trying to recover the endangered species working with people from a corporation to try to find a solution," Brown said.
   "It's one thing to just move the lanes and say, `we're done, we're good here'. But it's a whole other thing to monitor it and to make sure we have done the right thing."
   Brown said Irving Oil also participates in the conservation of the species through attendance at right whale research team meetings. They also hire the aquarium's education department whale team to visit schools.
   "Our whale team has actually travelled all the way to Saint John to speak to schools and I think that is a really nice blend, because it helps the younger generation gain an appreciation for the whales;' she said. "When you work with an endangered species, you just can't really get away with just doing the research. The conservation and the education are all important"
   Lars Trodson of Irving Oil Corp. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, said the commitment to the research team is a long-term relationship.
   "This is a long-term commitment to very valuable research," Trodson said. "We always assess what the needs of the program are and we will always be contacting representatives of the aquarium to see what they will need next year.

HOME MINKE RIGHT FINBACK SEI HUMPBACK ORCA BLUE
SUPPORT ETHICS TALES SONGS IMAGES GUESTBOOK LINKS SHARKS