Monday, July 2, 2012

Pico crisscrosses the Atlantic

Aquarium researchers can recognize many (if not all) North Atlantic right whales by sight. They've been observing these whales in the Bay of Fundy for decades now. Researchers watch familiar females seen in the Bay of Fundy appear in the southeastern United States calving grounds each winter, where they give birth and nurture their babies before heading north again.

 Pico in the Bay of Fundy

But Aquarium researcher Philip Hamilton was part of a most unusual discovery. One particular right whale, now known as Pico, was spotted on the other side of the Atlantic in the Azores near an island named Pico. (Can you guess how this whale got her name?) This noteworthy sighting happened in January 2009, as documented in this blog post. Later that same year, Hamilton and the other New England Aquarium researchers again documented Pico back in the Bay of Fundy in August and September of 2009.

A collaborative paper details this unique cross-Atlantic migration. While Pico's travels brings up many questions, researchers suspect she may have been seeking an alternate location to calve. This appears to be the only documented evidence of a western North Atlantic right whale outside its normal range in winter. Since this sighting, however, Pico did give birth to her first calf last year and was seen off the southeastern US like most calving females.

The right whale researchers are preparing for another season on the Bay of Fundy later this summer. Bookmark the Right Whale Research Blog to see if Pico will make another appearance!

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment

Leave your comments here.