Monday, July 30, 2007

North Atlantic right whale fact sheet

Right whales received their name because whalers considered them to be the right whales to hunt (because they are easy to approach when they are at the surface, they yield a lot of oil and they float when killed due to their high oil content).

Unfortunately this led to them to being hunted almost to extintion in the early 1990's. The north Atlantic right whale is now one of the most endangered whale species and they are considered to be functionally extinct in the earstern Atlantic. In the western Atlantic fewer than 500 individuals remain.  Nowadays they are still threatened by ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, habitat loss and human disturbance,

On January  5th 2009 a right whale was seen off Pico island in the Azores for the first time in over 60 years, The adult female was named "Pico" and matched to the North Atlantic right whale  catalogue. Before this sighting Pico was seen off Cape Cod and 237 days after the sighting in the Azores she was encountered in the Bay of Fundy, Canada (source: WDC blog).

 Male: 17.1 m
 Female: 18.5 m
 Calf: 4 - 5 m

 Female: 60,000 - 90,000 kg
 Male: 45,000 kg
 Calf: 1,000 kg

220 - 290 pairs

Diet: Plankton (calanoid copepods, krill and crustacean larvae)

Breeding age: Female: 9 - 10 years

Longevity: 50 years

Gestation: 1 year

Population: Global: c. 500 individuals

Conservation Status: Endangered

In other languages: 
Portuguese: Baleia franca do norte
Spanish: Ballena franca glacial o ballena de los vascos
French: Baleine france de l'Atlantique nord
Italian: Balena franca nordatlantica
German: Atlantischer nordkaper
Dutch: Noordkaper
Swedish: Nordkapare / Nordatlantisk rätval
Danish: Nordkaper
Finnish: Mustavalas
Polish: Waleń biskajski
Russian: Северный гладкий кит

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