Vol. 1, No. 3
Gulf of Maine Times
Diverse groups in the Gulf of Maine say they will collaborate to help endangered right whales make a comeback
Gulf of Maine - Hunted to near extinction years ago, the endangered North Atlantic right whale continues to have a tenuous grasp on survival, let alone resurgence, with only about 300 known to live today.
Those who most frequently cross paths with whales - commercial mariners and fishermen in the Gulf of Maine - say they're willing to do what they can to help the whales recover without jeopardizing their own livelihood. But at least one major conservation organization questions the effectiveness of proposed new protective measures.
Nearly invisible giants
One of the largest marine mammals protected under the US Endangered Species Act, the North Atlantic right whale can grow to measure 45 to 50 feet (13.5 to 16.5 meters) in length and to weigh as much as 100 tons (about 110 tonnes). The whale's natural life span can be as long as 80 years.
Despite their formidable size, right whales are extremely difficult to see in the water, due to their dark color and lack of a dorsal fin. They have a narrow upper jaw, and their heads are marked with light-colored patches of hardened skin called callosities, which are unique to each whale. Right whales have two separate blow holes, creating a distinctive v-shaped blow.
Right whales spend most of their time in the Gulf of Maine in two of the three areas defined as critical habitat under the US Endangered Species Act. They give birth to their calves off the coasts of Florida and Georgia during the winter months, begin their migration to their New England feeding grounds in February, and remain in the Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays during late winter and early spring. The whales move on to the Great South Channel in mid to late spring.Full story...