Cape Cod Bay
Cape Cod Bay and the surrounding waters serve as a feeding and nursery area. Although right whales have been found here in all months, their peak occurrence is March and April. Recent surveys indicate that more whales may be here in the winter months than previously thought. All age classes and both sexes use this area. Mothers and calves inhabit the area mostly in April and May, with some also appearing in the summer and fall. Two-thirds of the population has been seen here at some point, with 60 to 90 individuals seen annually.
Great South Channel
This feeding/nursery area east of Cape Cod is inhabited primarily in April, May and June. With relatively little survey effort, a large portion of the population has been sighted here. All age classes and both sexes use this area. During good survey years, nearly 200 animals are seen here and more than 80 percent of the cataloged whales have been seen here at least once.
Bay of Fundy
Located between the state of Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada, the Bay of Fundy is an important feeding/nursery area. Whales are found here from June through October, with peak occurrence in August and September. All age classes and both sexes use this area. Between 150 and 200 animals are seen here annually, and more than 80 percent of the cataloged whales have been seen here at one time in their lives.
Roseway Basin/Browns Bank
This feeding area is generally used during the same months as the Bay of Fundy—August through October. Adult males in social groups (Surface Active Groups or SAGs) dominate this area. Mothers and calves are very rare here. Over 100 whales have been documented here in a given season, and more than 50 percent of the cataloged whales have been seen here at least once.
Changes in Distribution Patterns
These distribution patterns have varied over the years. Major distribution shifts include:
- 1992 to 1998: Whales abandoned the Great South Channel, apparently in response to food availability.
- 1993-2000: Whales abandoned Roseway Basin. Many of these whales moved into the Bay of Fundy.
- 1993 to present: Whales moved into the Bay of Fundy in much greater numbers, increasing from an average of 60 animals annually to more than 200 in 1997, and then to an average of 140 in the 2000s.