Tracking Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

The North Atlantic Right Whales are among some of the most endangered species of whale and animal on Earth. With only about 450 to 500 of them left in the wild, scientists and wildlife conservationists are working around the clock to help find new ways to save these animals. Through new tagging devices they hope to better track endangered whales and promote conservation efforts.

State Of The North Atlantic Right Whales

The North Atlantic Right Whales are some of the most majestic creatures on Earth as well as some of the largest, weighing in at approximately 55 tons each but can easily reach up to 70 tons. They mostly inhabit the Northeastern and Southeastern waters of the United States. This includes areas such as the Scotian Shelf, the Great South Channel, and the Massachusetts Bay.
These amazing animals have very unique features. Compared to other baleen whales, the North Atlantic Right Whales are skimmers, which means that they use a combination of their baleen plates as well as movements from their mouths to strain out prey from the water. They usually feed on small organisms known as zooplanktons, which include cyprids and euphausiids.

How Tracking Can Save North Atlantic Right Whales

The process used to track endangered whales, as seen here at NOAA Fisheries, has been a challenging one to develop over the past several years. This is because this particular species of whale has no dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is usually used for scientists to be able to efficiently track an animal without doing the animal any harm. In the North Atlantic Right Whale’s case, there have been many scientists working on developing a new tracking device that will sit flat on the whale’s skin.
There are many challenges with developing these new devices to track endangered whales. Some of them include building a device that won’t slough off as the whale’s blubber is shed and renewed over time, and that can withstand the immense pressures of being in deep water plus the weight of the animal when it rolls around. There is hope, however, that there will be new tracking devices in place very soon.

Neighborhood Efforts and NOAA

On the most recent attempts to track endangered whales, as seen at World Wildlife Fund, there have been several organizations that have come together and collaborated on this effort. Among them are the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Sea Life Center, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and the NOAA Fisheries. This gives scientists ample opportunities to study and work on conservation efforts from both fronts where the whales live.

Neighborhood efforts in Alaska have greatly contributed to the efforts of tracking these amazing animals as well. Because it is so difficult to maintain visibility over a long period of time for any one of these animals, there were many volunteers along the coastline who were able to help scientists and researchers to keep an eye on a very special whale, known as S078. This whale was tracked for approximately 800 miles and was successfully tagged due to the combined efforts of volunteers and researchers.

The North Atlantic Right Whales have a long way to go until they are stable again. The good news, however, is that with enhanced tagging devices to track these majestic animals, scientists and conservation experts can help promote their safety and ensure that they live as safely and as long as possible.

Follow along this traveling couple’s visual story through Japan where they encounter a whale shark among other majestic adventures: