Potential Whale Breeding Grounds Discovered

Monday, January 05, 2009

A large number of North Atlantic right whales have been seen in the Gulf of Maine, leading right whale researchers at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center to believe they have identified a wintering ground and potentially a breeding ground for this endangered species.

The NEFSC’s aerial survey team saw 44 individual right whales on Dec. 3 in the Jordan Basin area, located about 70 miles south of Bar Harbor, Maine. Weather permitting, the team regularly surveys the waters from Maine to Long Island and offshore 150 miles to the Hague Line (the U.S.-Canadian border), an area about 25,000 square nautical miles.

“We’re excited because seeing 44 right whales together in the Gulf of Maine is a record for the winter months, when daily observations of three to five animals are much more common,” said Tim Cole, who heads the team. “Right whales are baleen whales, and in the winter spend a lot of time diving for food deep in the water column. Seeing so many of them at the surface when we are flying over an area is a bit of luck.”

Just a few days later, on Dec. 6, the team observed only three right whales on Cashes Ledge, about 80 miles east of Gloucester, Mass. Cole says the whales are known to be in the region, but actually seeing them on any given aerial survey is unpredictable. On Dec. 14, the team saw 41 right whales just west of Jordan Basin.

An estimated 100 female North Atlantic right whales head south in winter to give birth in the waters off Florida and Georgia, but little is known about where other individual right whales in the population go in winter, largely due to difficult surveying conditions.

Given the large geographical area over which North Atlantic right whales can occur, Cole and NEFSC colleagues developed an aerial grid system a few years ago for the Gulf of Maine and waters around Cape Cod to ensure complete coverage of the region. The grid resulted in consistent surveys of areas infrequently surveyed in the past, like Jordan Basin and the Great South Channel, and have shown that whales congregate in certain areas at certain times.

With a population estimated to be about 325 whales, knowing where the whales are at any time is critical to protect them. Finding an aggregation of whales can trigger a management action affording protection, such as slowing ship speeds in the vicinity of the whales. On Dec. 9, new federal speed rules for large ships went into effect to reduce ship strikes, to which North Atlantic right whales are particularly vulnerable.

Maritime Reporter June 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

There’s Still Time for SHIPPINGInsight Award Entries

Entry submissions for the first SHIPPINGInsight Award are due Friday, Aug. 1, but organizers said they will continue to accept nominations through following week to provide some extra time.

MOL Ship Management Earns Energy/Enviromental Certifications

First company to receive ISO50001 certification from Nihon Kaiji Kyokai.   MOL Ship Management Co., Ltd. (MOLSHIP), a core ship management company in the corporate group headed by Mitsui O.

Pumps Reach Sinking Shrimper Just in Time

A commercial fishing vessel from Brownsville is slowly making its way back to port, thanks to some quick actions by its crew and Coast Guard units, informs the US Coastguard,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1013 sec (10 req/sec)