Right Whale Research

Right Whale Fast Facts

Right Whale Facts

How to tell it’s a right whale:

  • Broad, flat back with no dorsal fin.
  • Paddle shaped flippers.
  • White “callosity” patterns on head and chin, used to identify individuals.
  • Mainly black with occasional white patches on belly.
  • V-shaped blow.

Three Species

  • North Atlantic right whale: North Atlantic Ocean.
  • North Pacific right whale: North Pacific Ocean.
  • Southern right whale: southern hemisphere.

Weight: Fifty tons (equals about six elephants).

Length: Up to 55 feet long (about the length of a school bus).

Newborn calves: Two tons, 15 feet in length.

Number remaining in population: Fewer than 600.

Status: One of the most endangered marine animals in the ocean.

Primary Threats: Human activity including ship strike and fishing gear entanglement.

Primary Feeding Grounds: Northeast U.S. and Canada.

How do they eat?

Have large plates of baleen to strain their food (small marine organisms called copepods) out of the water

Only Known Calving Ground: Southeastern U.S.

Project Partners

Georgia dept natural resources logoFWC logo

Research conducted and photographs collected under NOAA research permit #15488.

Scientific data contributed to the decision to lower ship speeds in areas along the South Carolina and Georgia coastline. The result? Zero right whale mortality from ship strike during the 5-year trial period. The successful trial led to the decision to make the regulation permanent in 2015.


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