Right Whale

Right Whale 2016-06-14T18:29:12+00:00

Project Description

Right Whale: Photo by manning999 on Flickr.

Audiograph: Right Whale

Right whales are surface feeders that inhabit shallow areas close to shore, easily subjecting them to ship collisions, or “ship strikes.” Their niche also made them easy prey for commercial whalers, so currently there are exceedingly few right whales.

Cousins to the Bowhead whales, many of their calls are in the range of human hearing. Their moans and whelps suggest elephants, and the North Atlantic males produce a “gunshot” sound, so sound recordings could be mistaken for an elephant hunt.

That these animals are rare and threatened has brought a lot of focus to their preservation. This has facilitated the development of a fabulous monitoring program in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary designed, installed, and managed by Chris Clark’s lab (Cornell). Much is being learned about the whales, but also about shipping noise and masking models.

General Information

Latin Name:
For E. australis: antarctica (Lesson, 1828), antipodarum (Gray, 1843), temminckii (Gray, 1864)
For E. glacialis: biscayensis (Eschricht, 1860), nordcaper (Lacepede, 1804)
For E. japonica: sieboldii (Gray, 1864)
Greenland whale, the black whale, the great whale, the true whale
11–18 m (36–59 ft)
60–80 short tons (54–73 t)
Unknown, but there is evidence that their Bowhead cousins may live 200+ years.
Physical Traits:
mostly black, no dorsal fin, callosities on the head region, thick body, broad tail fluke, distinctive v-shaped blow
Right whales forage and reside at the surface in shallow waters near the coasts.
moderate temperatures found between 20 and 60 degrees in latitude, close to peninsulas, bays, continental shelves
three distinct areas of the globe: the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean, the North Pacific in a band from Japan to Alaska, all areas of the Southern Ocean.
zooplankton, crustaceans, krill, pteropods

Clark, C.W. 1982. The acoustic repetoire of the southern right whale, a quantitative analysis. Animal Behavior 30: 1060-1071.Mellinger, D.K., Stafford, K.M., Moore, S.E., Munger, L. and Fox, C.G. 2004. Detection of North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) calls in the Gulf of Alaska. Marine Mammal Science 20(4): 872-879.

Parks, S.E. 2003. Response of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) to playback of calls recorded from surface active groups in both the North and South Atlantic. Marine Mammal Science 19(3): 563-580.

Matthews, J. N., Brown, S., Gillespie, D., Johnson, M., McLanaghan, R., Moscrop, A., Nowacek, D., Leaper, R., Lewis, T. and Tyack, P. 2001. Vocalisation rates of the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 3(3): 271-282.

McDonald, M.A. and Moore, S.E. 2002. Calls recorded from North Pacific right whales (Eubalaena japonica) in the eastern Bering Sea. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 4(3): 261-266.

Richardson, W.J., Green, C.R. Jr., Malme, C.I. and Thomson, D.H. 1995. Marine Mammals and Noise. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Vanderlaan, A.S.M., Hay, A.E. and Taggart, C.T. 2003. Characterization of North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) sounds in the Bay of Fundy. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 28(2): 164-173.