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 user 2005-04-07 at 12:21:00 pm Views: 37
  • #8671
    Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Has Baby

    BOSTON (April 05) – A baby boom has given a lift to the
    endangered North Atlantic right whale, with a near-record number of births in
    the just-ended calving season, according to researchers at the New England

    They warned, however, the species still faces significant

    Twenty-seven whales were born during the season that
    started in mid-December and ended Thursday, second only to the 31 births
    recorded in 2001, the best year since scientists started tracking births in the
    early 1990s. Just five years ago, there was only one birth.

    The species was hunted nearly to extinction in the late
    18th century and its total population now numbers only 325 to 350. Five have
    died in the last six months, including at least two pregnant females and two
    other females that were of breeding age.

    The newborns face significant obstacles before they can
    help the population rebound, said Lisa Conger, a senior biologist at the New
    England Aquarium who tracks the whales.

    First, they must survive their migration from the calving
    grounds off the coasts of Florida and southern Georgia – where airplanes were
    used to count and photograph them – through East Coast shipping traffic to their
    summer habitat around Canada’s Bay of Fundy.

    Juvenile whales also have a 25 percent mortality rate.
    Females don’t reproduce until the age of 10.

    This year’s high birth numbers help, “but we’re not
    overexcited,” Conger said.

    “We don’t want to get feeling too comfortable,” said Kate
    Sardi, assistant director at the Whale Center of New England