Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Researchers search for elusive right whale mating grounds

by Amanda Thompson

When winter approaches, New England Aquarium’s right whale researchers normally leave the freezing waters of northern Maine. But not this year! The Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute (CWI) are chartering a vessel from Bar Harbor, ME, to, as researcher Moira Brown says, "go on a quest to find the elusive North Atlantic right whale mating ground!"

Researchers scan the fog for right whales.

On this quest researchers will brave the winter elements to survey the area from the coast of Bar Harbor through the Jordan Basin. Their goal is to collect photographs of right whales for individual identification, scarring and health assessment as well as skin biopsy samples for ongoing genetics studies, and fecal samples for studies on reproductive hormones.

There will be four trips out to sea in total and they will be conducted from November through early January, the dates will be determined by the weather. Funding for this field study has been provided by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (through a grant to the Aquarium) and the Canadian Wildlife Federation and TD Bank (through a grant to CWI).

See how the weather is cooperating and read more about this exciting search hunt for the mysterious North Atlantic right whale mating ground with posts from the Jordan Basin on the Right Whale Blog!

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