A group of researchers spent more than four hours tracking the faint calls of a right whale, of which there are only a few hundred in existence.
Scientists in the Bering Sea just scored big recently, finding two critically endangered North Pacific right whales – an animal with just a few hundred remaining in existence. Scientists on the research vessel photographed two of the whales last weekend, and was even able to collect a biopsy sample, according to an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The research vessel, Yushin Maru 2, was participating in the Pacific Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research program. The crew was using an acoustic recorder to listen for the faint calls of whales around them east of Bristol Bay in Alaska, and were able to record calls between 10 and 32 miles away that were identified as right whale calls.
They spent four and a half hours following the calls, picking them out from the many others echoing throughout the sea, and they finally caught up with them.
“With as few as 400 remaining, NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to the conservation and recovery of North Atlantic right whales,” NOAA says on its website. “Right whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Their two greatest threats are entanglement in fixed fishing gear and vessel strikes. Each fall, right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warm coastal waters of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida. These southern waters are the only known calving area for the species; an area where they give birth and nurse their young.”