SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE
DERIVATION: from the Latin australis for southern.
At a recent marine mammal conference, it
was demonstrated how the use of technology is enhancing whale research.
During a 6-week-period, a right whale mother and her calf were documented
2 times in the Bay of Fundy. In years past, it would have been assumed
that they had remained in the bay for that time period. Since the mother
was tagged and the pair tracked by satellite, researchers discovered that
the twosome had not remained in the Bay of Fundy, but instead had traveled
It is speculated that the reason for this enormous journey is that the
mother is making a parental investment and showing her calf feeding grounds.
The breeding mothers, for unknown reasons, have different feeding ground
imprints. If these mothers were killed, there would be a cultural extinction
of that right whale feeding ground.
While the Southern population of whales is growing, the Northern population
remains at 350. However, not all of these 350 animals are breeding.
At the same conference, Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo said that
the scientific community cannot wait until every item of a study has been
analyzed. Scientists must take an active role with regard to the species
they are studying. He was referring to Boston's plan to send sewage to
Stellwagen Banks, a critical whale feeding ground.
Inconclusive studies have been done to determine how much food a right
whale needs and how sewage will affect copepods (mainstay of their diet).
Dr. Mayo warned that the need for answers is immediate and desperate.
Scientists speculate sewage will have a significant impact on whale feeding
grounds. Feeding right whales depend on grouping of copepods. Sewage could
block sunlight diminishing copepods' food source (plankton) and cause
copepods to scatter. If they scatter, the whales will starve.
In the case of right whales, any errors or accidents could mean extinction.
By: Maris Sidenstecker
Go to Whales (Baleen & Toothed)