Marine Life of the Cape Cod Canal: The Right Whale


Northern Right Whale. Image by NOAA Fisheries via image search.After a full day volunteering in the hospital, I had the privilege of hearing Lindsay Hirst talk about her passion: the North Atlantic Right Whale. I learned a lot about the life of this endangered whale species.

Cape Cod has the right environment for copepods, the favorite food of the Right Whale. It uses its baleen (pictured below) to filter the copepod out of the water. Weighing in at 60 tons, imagine how much they must eat to stay full!

Unfortunately, the North Atlantic Right Whale is the right whale to hunt and has seen serious population declines as a result. There are likely less than 500 left. Despite the decline in whaling, the Right Whale still faces threats from vessel collisions and entanglement in fishing lines.

Organizations like the National Marine Life Center and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (among many, many others) work hard to help these whales by tracking them and enacting policy change. Using sonar receivers attached to buoys, scientists can listen for whale communications to locate the whales. Once a whale’s location is known, local ships are notified and told to slow down. This reduces the number of propeller strikes on whales of all species.

Learning about North Atlantic Right Whales (and other marine animals) is the best way to save these species.  If you have the opportunity to attend programs like these at the National Marine Life Center, or elsewhere, you should definitely take the time to do so!