Right whale population at all-time high, says expert
More than 500 whales have been documented, says Canadian Whale Institute
A Canadian whale expert says the future of the North Atlantic right whale is looking up, with the highest population since scientists started tracking it 30 years ago.
Moira Brown, a senior scientist with the Canadian Whale Institute, said it's been a long road to rebuild the right whale population but there are now more than 500 documented animals.
"North Atlantic right whales are the most endangered species of large whales in the North Atlantic," Brown said Thursday.
"In recent years, the largest aggregations have been found in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, during the spring feeding season. The population has been documented by a variety of groups of observers."
Brown said North Atlantic right whale sightings have been recorded on the entire East Coast of North America, with the majority from Florida up to the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin.
She said there have also been recent sightings around other parts of the Maritimes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Brown said more than 300 calves have been born in the last 15 years and fewer of them are being killed by ships passing through their habitats.
In 2003, the federal government, environmental groups, oil companies and several other groups worked to reroute shipping lanes that went through whale habitat areas.
The goal was to prevent ships from hitting whales as they passed through.
Brown believes the move was successful.
"Since 2008, there have only been two down in the U.S. and those were outside what we call seasonal management areas," she said.
Brown said moving shipping routes was a good first step — now she's in Nova Scotia trying to reach out to fishermen.
"If they get a whale tangled in their gear or see a whale tangled, they know who to call to try to get some help to disentangle that whale," she said.