Right Whale FlukesThe Right Whale

Right Whale Flukes photo credit: john crockett

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are in deep trouble. Only about 340 remain alive, and that number is declining rapidly, according to the 2022 Right Whale Report Card1 from the NARWC. Only about 70 of those are females who are able to have children.2 Every year, about 60 right whales experience an entangelment in fishing gear, 80% of all right whales have experienced entanglement at some point, and recent research shows that entanglement has become the leading cause of right whale deaths.3

I first met right whales in 2003 in the Bay of Fundy. Right whales are immensely powerful animals and meeting one is an unforgettable experience. At that time, the bay was a hot spot for right whales feeding and socializing. Ten years later, right whales stopped visiting the Bay of Fundy in significant numbers, apparently due to warming water and an absence of food,4 and started appearing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2017 an "Unusual Mortality Event" was declared when 12 right whales were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.5, 6 That marked the beginning of a rapid decline in the North Atlantic right whale population from a high of 529 in 2016.7

I will be adding more information to these pages over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, please check the links above for more information about the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

What Can We Do to Help the Whales?