Here are seven facts about the North Atlantic Right Whale!
- Its scientific name is Eubalaena glacialis, which means “True Whale of the ice.”
- E. glacialis typically weighs between 55 thousand to 95 thousand kilograms (or about 120 thousand to 210 thousand pounds), and can measure up to 17 meters or 55 feet in length.
- E. glacialis inhabits a range from The Gulf of Mexico to Iceland. There is also a Pacific population of E. glacialis, however the populations are isolated and genetically distinct from one another.
- These cetaceans mostly eat tiny copepods, krill and zooplankton. They do this by swimming near the surface with their mouths open to collect water. Specialized keratin structures in the whale’s mouth called baleen trap the tiny organism for the whale to eat.
- E. glacialis has the largest testes of any living mammals, which can weigh up to 525 kilograms.
- Hunting began as early as the 10th century, and continued to be hunted until they were nearly extinct in the 19th century. In 1935, right whales became one of the first whales to be granted international protection, with a total ban on hunting.
- Today, The North Atlantic Right Whale is the most critically endangered great whale. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that there’s only about 250 mature individuals left in the wild.
So what can be done to help the North Atlantic Right Whale? We can encourage governments to protect habitat, and alter shipping routes where whale collisions are high. In 2003, some major shipping lanes near the Bay of Fundy in Canada were shifted, which reduced Canadian right whale strikes by 80%. By writing to your government representatives and supporting conservation organizations, these magnificent creatures can hopefully start to make a comeback.
If you’d like to learn more about the North Atlantic Right Whale, check out this video on my YouTube, which goes in-depth into the biology and lives of these serene cetaceans.