Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A turnaround for North Atlantic Right Whales?

The North Atlantic Right Whale, one of the most critically endangered whale species on the planet, has been in the news of late on account of this New York Times story, which suggests things may finally be looking up for the 400 or so individuals still in existence. The right whale is regularly in the news here in Maine, on account of the controversial regulations imposed on lobster fishermen in an effort to reduce whale mortality.

I've written several pieces on the efforts to save the species, including this piece in the Christian Science Monitor, which described how President George W Bush's Office of Management and Budget was delaying rules aimed to reduce collisions between ships and right whales. (A watered-down rule change was subsequently enacted.) When whales become entangled in fishing gear -- another leading cause of death -- New Brunswick fisherman Mackie Greene is often called to rescue them, as described in another of my Monitor pieces.

In early 2008, I wrote an in-depth feature on the scientists who study the whales for The Chronicle of Higher Education, which shows the problems the whales face, the likely causes, and the unusual bond that's formed between researchers and the individual whales they study and document. (The piece is available online, but non-subscribers may be prompted for a $10 web pass.)

But if you really want to know all there is to know about the species, pick up a copy of The Urban Whale, the definitive resource on the animal.

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