Monday, April 18, 2011

Kleenex family grows again with a new grand-calf

2008 calf of Drippy-nose taken August 26, 2008
The analysis of photographs taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service aerial survey team has revealed the 21st right whale mother of this calving season and she is Kleenex's 1981 daughter Drippy-nose, AKA Sonnet (#1123) in the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalogue.  This is Drippy-nose's fifth calf and Kleenex's eighth grand-calf.  Drippy-nose had her last calf in 2008.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whales moving north

After another successful but eventful calving season, 20 new right whale calves are travelling north with their mothers.  A number of right whales have been seen off the tip of Long Island, NY, and off Cape Cod (Stellwagen and Wilkinson Banks and the Great South Channel) in April.  If these positive trends in calving continue and accidental right whale deaths are limited, the population may reach the 500 mark in the next few years.  The current right whale population number is estimated at 473.

What made the calving season eventful?  Many entangled right whales, whales with propeller scarring from being run over by smaller vessels, an orphaned new born and the death of a right whale that gained public attention when she was sedated and rope removed but because the entenlargement was too severe with many complications, she was unable to recover.

Mother (Insignia #2645) and calf seen in the Bay of Fundy August 7,  2010
We don't expect any mothers and calves for a few months in the Bay of Fundy and hope that the season brings more right whales than in 2010 when less than 40 right whales were photo-identified in the Bay - on the low side for one of the critical habitats in Canada.  Lack of food because of low copepod numbers (the right whale preferred zooplankton food) is one of the suspected problems last summer.