TO SYMBOLICALLY ADOPT A NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE
CHOOSE AN INDIVIDUAL WHALE, MOTHER/CALF PAIR OR FAMILY GROUP
FILL OUT THE ADOPTION FORM EITHER ONLINE OR PRINT OUT
SEND ADOPTION FORM BY:
FORM & MAIL TO:
Atlantic Right Whale Adoption Program
Route 776, Grand Manan, NB E5G 1A1 Canada
FORM & FAX TO:
662 3804 (leave your name and number)
& CALF - $75
are tax deductible in Canada
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE ADOPTION PACKAGE?
certificate (suitable for framing) is sent in a portfolio and includes
the adoptee(s) name(s). Each has a photo of the individual
whale or matriarch of the family or photos of mother/calf pair. A
Family Tree is also
included when adopting a family. The portfolio will also include
information about the adoptive whale(s), North Atlantic right whales
and the research station. A postcard, magnet or bookmark will
also be included.
PROJECTS. Personalized individual business-size cards can
included for each student as well as a class certificate. An
age-appropriate activity will also be included.
An update on the
whales will be sent annually. To continue receiving this
newsletter an annual donation of $15 is required or other right whales
can be adopted.
Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station (GMWSRS) is a registered
charity in Canada incorporated in 1981 by its founder, the late Dr.
We are dedicated to research and education which promote
conservation of the marine environment. Our researchers study
and marine mammals in the lower Bay of Fundy, Canada, and
education and stewardship programs through a natural history museum,
lectures, publications, specific projects, a web site and outdoor
for this web site is from the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship
for Species at Risk
donations to the GMWSRS.
& Seabird Research Station Inc.
24 Route 776, Grand
Ph. 506 662
Fax 506 662 9804
Page maintained by ACCESS
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Modified July 3d 2011
Challenges to Recovery
right whales is contingent on protecting their habitat and preventing
- Incidental deaths (ship
- Genetic bottlenecking
- All large whales are
affected by ship strikes but some seem more vulnerable than others.
- The location of
whales and movement of vessels often overlap
- Whales use various
areas for calving, breeding, feeding or migration
- Vessels, both large and small, may be using shipping routes into ports, fishing, travelling through areas not regulated by shipping lanes, or other marine activities including pleasure trips.
- Some of the first recorded ship strikes with whales occurred in the 1800s.
Why do vessels and
But why don't the whales get out of the way?
- Many vessels
travel much faster than whales can swim.
- At night or in
the fog captains can't see whales.
- Whales will
sometimes surface after long dives and if travelling quickly through an area, the captain may not realize the whales are even there.
- Some people may assume that the whales
will get out of the way.
But the problem is more complicated.
- Whales spend most of their time diving and when they surface they must recover from the previous dive and prepare for the next. They may also rest at or near the surface.
- Whales that live in areas where there aren't
many vessels, such as in the high Arctic, react more strongly to motor noise. Those that live along the busy areas, such as the eastern seaboard of North America, are less likely to react, probably habituated to vessel noise.
- Most noise is coming from the stern or back
of the vessel where the propellors are located. There is little noise at the bow. Noise in deep water does not travel as it does in shallow water and there may be spots where vessel noise can't be heard even though the vessel is moving toward the whale.
- Many vessels travel much faster than many whales. This does not give whales much time to react when surfacing from a dive. Whales may not be able to dive deeply and quickly enough to avoid vessels with deep keels.
What can be done?
- Always have a dedicated bow watch when travelling in areas where whales are
known to occur.
- Slow down so
whales will have more time to get out of the way.
- Reroute trips to avoid areas where whales are located . This is being proposed for an area off Nova Scotia where Right whales congregate in the summer and fall to feed.
- Reroute shipping lanes outside of the whales most common areas if possible. This was done in the Bay of Fundy in 2003 - the first time shipping lanes have been modified to protect a whale species.
- Set up hydrophone arrays that can be accessed remotely. By eavesdropping on the whales, vessel traffic can be notified of the presence of whales even when
no boat or aerial surveys can be done.
- Delineate areas where whales are most common with conservation areas (as was done in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin off Nova Scotia) or marine protected areas which are clearly outlined on charts. This, however, does not mean that the whales will only be here and caution should be taken in surrounding waters as well.
- Many types of fishing require the fishing gear to be anchored in place (e.g. gill nets, herring weirs) or are traps sitting on the bottom with lines extending to the surface and buoys or floats to locate the gear (e.g. lobster, crab or cod traps).
- These lines in the water can extend to great
depths where there is little light and therefore difficult or impossible to see.
- If a whale is swimming in the vicinity of these lines, the rope may become lodge in the whale's mouth and baleen if the whale is feeding or wrapped around the whale's body if the whale becomes entangled in loose line. The immediate reaction of the whale when the line is encountered is to roll which often makes it worse. The whales are strong enough that they may part the rope and take some of the fishing gear with them. Most rope is made to last and can remain on the whale for years.
- Occasionally whales may also become entangled in the nets themselves.
- Entrapment can also occur in such things as herring weirs, large traps near shore with large wooden poles driven in the bottom with netting wrapped around the entire structure. An opening large enough for vessels (and whales) to
enter usually faces the shore.
What can be done?
- Fishermen can
avoid areas where whales are found.
- Gear can be modified to limit the amount of rope and have weaker rope or breakaway links to allow the whales to free themselves.
- Ultimately the less rope in the water, the less likely whales will become entangled. When whales are entangled, specialized teams can intervene by cutting lines off the whale but some right whales have been entangled in lines
- Young whales that are rapidly growing are particularly vulnerable as the lines become tighter as the whale grows and can cut into their skin and even bone. Infections can result and can kill the whale.
- The whale may also be prevented from feeding if some of the line is swallowed or tightly wrapped around the mouth.
- Herring weir operators can remove the whales using techniques developed for this by the fishermen and the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station. With right whales this usually means opening a section of the trap facing open water by removing netting and poles to the seafloor. Once the opening is wide enough the right whale will immediately swim out.
analyses has been underway for over a decade. Genetic profiles help us:
- determine individual relatedness and paternity
- link dead whales and other samples of unknown origin back to known individuals
us look at the genetic basis behind reproduction and health
- help us determine how whaling affected this species.
whale breaching in the Bay of Fundy. Photo: Laurie Murison
Low Genetic Diversity
populations were severely reduced leading to low genetic diversity
lead to increased inbreeding, resulting in:
populations have recovered from similar situations
is not possible but protecting right whales from incidental mortality
Major Habitat Areas of North
Atlantic Right Whales
in the Western North Atlantic
whales live along highly industrialized and busy coastlines.
and other pollutants are becoming persistent.
and hormone mimicking chemicals are regularly discharged into ocean
waters are becoming increasingly nutrient rich promoting toxic blooms.
composition is changing.
change is affecting water temperature and current patterns
Dead right whale "Delilah" on flatbed being moved to
necropsy site. Photo: Laurie Murison
to protect and restore local environments will ultimately also benefit
- Reduce and prevent discharge of excess nutrients & toxic chemicals - i.e. proper sewage treatment, proper disposal of chemicals
- Remember the 3 R’s -
levels have increased with more ship traffic, blasting, seismic
deterrents for other species are increasingly used.
whales are repeatedly approached by whale watchers & researchers.
guidelines of what are acceptable noise levels & disturbance
whale watch regulations promoting cautious, respectful behaviour
In the U.S.: a permit is required to approach a right whale closer than 500 yards (460 m), thus eliminating any right whale watching.
In Canada: Whale watchers have
developed a Code
of Ethics to reduce disturbance to right whales. Whale watching regulations
& licensing are being developed by
Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
research activities to limit potential, persistent disturbance &
Changes: Inadequate Food Resources
has changed species composition, resulting in changes in competition
of the ozone layer can reduce phytoplankton a critical component of the
many nutrients can promote growth of toxic phytoplankton
& maintaining management practices that protect & enhance the
of overfishing & careful consideration of “new” fisheries
Changes: Catastrophic Events
spills are extremely destructive to the marine environment
limited information is available as to the effects on right whales
toxic chemicals are also transported over water or can enter from land
Bay of Fundy
- Local groups, industry and government agencies regularly meet to develop contingency planning, train volunteers and educate the public in the event of a disaster
information is needed to properly understand how to protect marine
in particular right whales
disposal & treatment of petroleum products can help
Mother and calf right whale diving in the Bay of
Fundy. Photo: Laurie Murison
- North Atlantic right whales are highly
- By our mere existence,
threaten the survival of right whales
- Ship strikes &
fishing gear are recognized as leading causes of death
- However, it is equally
protect right whale habitat - which means preserving oceans from
Whales & How These Problems Affect Them
Because right whales
they are vulnerable to being hit.
- slow swimming
- difficult to see
- rest at the surface
- engage in surface social behaviour
- react at the last minute to approaching vessels,
At 8 months, Calvin
was weaned prematurely when her mother, Delilah
#1223, was struck by a ship and killed in the Bay of Fundy. Against all odds, she survived without her mother.
In 2000 Calvin was found entangled in fishing gear. A satellite telemetry buoy was attached to a trailing line and she was tracked for several months as she travelled in the Gulf of Maine before the gear was successfully removed in 2001 by the disentanglement team from the Center for Coastal
Studies, Provincetown, MA.
Slash was discovered dead March 17, 2011, off the coast of Virginia. Her carcass wasn't recovered but it is suspected that she died from a vessel strike.
two of Kleenex's calves,
(#1050 father of calf #1123 Drippy-nose, and Dingle #1144
father of calf #2642) have scarred flukes. Scars
can have many origins but one of the most common
entanglement in fishing gear – approximately 70% of right whales show
some scarring that can be related to entanglement. Scarring in right whales often turns white making the scars noticeable against the black or dark grey skin.
Dingle #1144 (see above) is also the father of one of Baldy's
calves, #1503, a female.
has allowed identification of the sex of whales when not known and who
the fathers are of some of the calves. This then allows the
building of family trees. For instance, Dingle has been
identified as the father of calves for both Kleenex #1142 and Baldy #1240. Not all males have been genetically profiled so more matches will be made.
Skin samples provide the live genetic material. Skin samples are most frequently obtained through biopsies using a biopsy dart injected with a crossbow from a safe distance. The whales usually do not react
to the darting process.
Tissues from biopsies or dead whales can also be analyzed for contaminants. Because right whales feed low on the food web zooplankton), their levels of contaminants are often low unlike beluga whales which often
have high levels of contaminants but prefer eating fish and squid.
Right whales are also exposed to biotoxins such as red tide which causes paralytic
shellfish poisoning. Continued exposure to this toxin can caused reproductive problems but it is unknown if right whales can deal more effectively with continued exposure than humans.
When whales become the interest of the media because of
entanglement they are usually given a name if they do not already have one. Names give a more personal touch to the story than their catalogue numbers.
Because of their endangered status, death of right whales from ship strikes can be a major factor in preventing the recovery of this species, particularly if the whales struck and killed are females, essentially to the survival of the species. The number of whale deaths is underestimated because not all whales struck by ships are found. The cause of death of all dead whales is not always known, particularly
when the whales are badly decomposed.
Right Whale Characteristics
or grey with white patches
no dorsal fin
their large black tail when diving
by craggy patches on their heads called callosities
social engaging in surface activities
prey are zooplankton (copepods and krill)
photo-identification work and coastal surveys, researchers have
migratory routes and specific critical habitats commonly used by most
whales for calving, feeding and nursery areas.
are born in the coastal waters of the southeastern U.S. between December and
birth, calves are taken to nursery areas ranging from Cape Cod Bay north.
wintering ground for the rest of the right whales are not completely
many whales are found in their feeding areas in the Great South Channel
and Cape Cod Bay.
By summer whales are found
north in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin. These areas have been
critical right whale habitats.
may travel further north during the summer and fall to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and as far as Iceland.
of right whales does place them in direct conflict with shipping,
fishing, and habitat disturbances.
happens if a dead
right whale is
the carcass can be recovered, a team will attempt a dissection or
though right whales were heavily hunted, little is known about them
information can be learned including cause of death
growing number of museums have added skeletons to their collections to
basic biology about right whales is lacking in many cases
research can help with specific problems as well as generating new
term research is essential to learn about a long-lived species