Our program is the longest-running and most comprehensive North Atlantic right whale research and conservation initiative in the world. We are working to conserve this critically endangered whale by reducing the risk of ship strikes, decreasing the threat of fishing gear entanglement and increasing our knowledge of right whale behavior, genetics and population structure.
Right whales can be hurt or killed by accidental collisions—ship strikes—with large ships or recreational boats. We have helped relocate major shipping lanes to avoid important right whale feeding areas. These changes direct ships around the whales, and should reduce the risk of ship strikes.
When right whales become tangled in commercial fishing gear, the results can be fatal. Fishing gear entanglement is the second-highest cause of right whale mortality today, and more than 70 percent of the right whale population bears scars from past fishing gear entanglements.
We use photographs and genetic analysis to determine the individual and family relationships among North Atlantic right whales. Right whale researchers use this information to better understand the dynamics among individuals that may affect their reproduction and survival success.
Genetic analysis reveals the relationship between individual right whales. We use this information to create right whale family trees, assess current and historic population size and determine the population’s resistance to disease.
We travel around the world to increase our understanding of the North Atlantic right whale and guide our efforts to protect this critically endangered species from the threat of extinction.
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.
The New England Aquarium is an integral part of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium. The Consortium includes individuals and organizations active in right whale research, conservation and management. Together, we are working to ensure the long-term conservation and recovery of right whales in the North Atlantic.
Right Whale Research News (RWRN) is the biannual newsletter of the New England Aquarium Right Whale Research Team. Read or download past issues.