Endangered right whales found where there were noneMay 21st, 2009 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, May 21 (IANS) Scientists have documented the presence of endangered North Atlantic right whales with the help of underwater hydrophones that can pick up sounds from hundreds of kilometres away.
The discovery is particularly important because it is in an area where these whales were thought to be extinct and one that may be opened to shipping if the melting of polar ice continues, as expected, said researchers.
Scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are unsure of exactly how many whales were in the region, which is off the southern tip of Greenland and site of an important 19th-century whaling area called Cape Farewell Ground.
But they recorded more than 2,000 right whale vocalisations in the region from July through December of 2007.
“The technology has enabled us to identify an important unstudied habitat for endangered right whales and raises the possibility that… a remnant of a central or eastern Atlantic stock of right whales still exists and might be viable,” said David Mellinger, assistant professor at OSU Hatfield Marine Science Centre in Newport and chief project scientist.
“We don’t know how many right whales there were in the area,” Mellinger added. “They aren’t individually distinctive in their vocalisations. But we did hear right whales at three widely spaced sites on the same day, so the absolute minimum is three. Even that number is significant because the entire population is estimated to be only 300 to 400 whales.”
Only two right whales have been sighted in the last 50 years at Cape Farewell Ground, where they had been hunted to near extinction prior to the adoption of protective measures, said an OSU release.
The results were presented this week at the Acoustical Society of America in Portland, Oregon.
- Endangered whales found where presumed extinct - May 21, 2009
- Scientists use new acoustic tools to study sounds made or heard by marine creatures - Dec 30, 2009
- Whales also shout to overcome noise - Jul 07, 2010
- 188-yr-old 'Two Brothers' ship linked to 'Moby-Dick' discovered - Feb 12, 2011
- Warming oceans drive largest movement of marine species - Jun 26, 2011
- Oil spill could wipe out Gulf's sperm whales - May 22, 2010
- Gulf of Maine identified as new breeding ground for endangered whales - Jan 05, 2009
- Mass whale stranding on New Zealand beach - Nov 15, 2011
- Success in conserving endangered whales depends on understanding feeding behavior - Dec 17, 2009
- Record Whale Calves Die-off Alarms Scientists - Mar 30, 2010
- Whales distressed by noise of ships' propellers - Feb 09, 2012
- Study to save Irrawaddy dolphins - Apr 30, 2012
- Bowhead whales sing love songs in different voices - Aug 03, 2009
- Habitat loss drives Sumatran tiger to verge of extinction - Feb 29, 2012
- Several new species of killer whales likely to be found in oceans - Apr 23, 2010
Tags: absolute minimum, acoustical society of america, atlantic right whales, cape farewell, chief project, hatfield marine science, hydrophones, marine science centre, mellinger, national oceanic and atmospheric administration, national oceanic and atmospheric administration noaa, north atlantic right whales, oregon state university, polar ice, project scientist, protective measures, right whale, right whales, southern tip, whaling