Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Right whale, wrong time

North Atlantic Right Whale and Calf

This North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) and her calf were first sighted outside of Plymouth Harbor on January 12, 2013 – far earlier than normal. Now scientists are concerned about the welfare of the calf as frigid temperatures have arrived in the region and are expected to last several days. 

Right Whales are highly endangered; there are only about 500 alive today. What's more, calves are completely dependent on their mothers, who care for them for about one year.

Females give birth every 3 to 5 years to a single calf after a 12-14 month gestation. Right whales mature slowly and females are typically 9 or 10 before they give birth to their first calf. Genetics studies have indicated that males may be 15 before they sire a calf. Right whales usually migrate alone, or as a mother-calf pair, but they are found in large groups on feeding grounds.

Read more about this mother and calf here.