Every summer and fall, large numbers of right whales congregate in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to feed and breed. We operate a seasonal field station out of Lubec, Maine, on the coast of the Bay of Fundy between Canada and the United States.
On every good-weather day, we survey the local right whales from our small research boat. Our primary goal is to record the sighted whales with digital cameras, and incorporate the photographs into the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog. We also collect biopsy and fecal samples. These samples are used in the laboratory to determine the genetic relationships between individual whales, their hormone levels and relative health.
In addition to being an essential right whale habitat, the Bay of Fundy contains heavily traveled international shipping lanes. We spearheaded a collaborative effort to successfully shift these shipping lanes to an area that is less frequented by right whales.
The Roseway Basin—approximately 30 nautical miles south of Nova Scotia—is an important socialization and feeding area for right whales. Large numbers of whales congregate here every summer and fall, where they feed and interact at or near the surface of the ocean.
With more than 200,000 photographs dating back to 1935, the North Atlantic Right Whale Photo-Identification Catalog is the most complete right whale identification resource available to researchers today.