1 Tahrcountry Musings: Whales - Good News from USA

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Whales - Good News from USA

Ships entering Boston harbor has been a constant threat to North Atlantic Right Whales. Risk of collisions between large ships and whales was always a looming threat. More than half of the world's North Atlantic right whales are known to be in Boston area during the spring Environmentalists have been clamouring for action for some time now. Slow moving North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world.

From June 1, ships of more than 300 gross tons will be asked to avoid an area in the Great South Channel from April to July. Ships from southern side and entering Boston Harbour will follow a different path. This is the time whales face the highest chance of being struck by ships. The channel is a key feeding area for the North Atlantic right whale. The International Maritime Organization has adopted both of these changes. The new move is expected to bring down expected reduction in ship strikes by74%. On an average 3,500 ships move through the Boston shipping lanes every year.

The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is one of three right whale species belonging to the genus Eubalaena. They migrate between feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine and wintering and calving areas in Georgia and Florida. Adult right whales measure 11–17 m in length and weigh up to 63,500 kg. The body of the whale is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly. Females are larger than males. Forty percent of a right whale's body weight is blubber. Females give birth to their first calf at an average age of 9-10 The total population of North Atlantic right whales is thought to be around 400 only.Gestation lasts approximately 1 year. It is believed that right whales live at least 50 years.

There are two other species of right whale, Eubalaena australis, which lives in the southern hemisphere and Eubalaena japonica, the North Pacific right whale.

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