30 April 2013

Awesome Non-fish in Trouble # 5: World's smallest whale population

Photo by Robert Pitman from ARKIVE

The Northern Pacific Right Whale, Eubalaena japonica, is found in Northern Pacific waters around the Sea of Okhotsk, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and eastern Aleutian Islands.[1] It is an Endangered species according to the IUCN Red List.  Having been a fish species since the 1500s, it was heavily exploited in the 1800s and illegally caught by Soviet whalers in the 1900s.[2] It is currently considered as the world's smallest whale population. For instance, the Bering Sea population is composed of only 8 females and 20 males, and the Western Pacific population may not be larger.[3] Current threats include ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and possibly disturbance from seismic activities.[3]

To know more about the Northern Pacific Right whale, visit SeaLifeBase.

[1] Shelden, K.E.W.; Moore, S.E.; Waite, J.M.; Wade, P.R.; Rugh, D.J. (2005) Historic and current habitat use by North Pacific right whales Eubalaena japonica in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
Mammal Review 35(2):129-155.

[2] Clapham, P.J.; Good, C.; Quinn, S.E.; Reeves, R.R.; Scarff, J.E. (2004) Distribution of North Pacific right whales (Eubalaena japonica) as shown by 19th and 20th century whaling catch and sighting records. Publications, Agencies and Staff of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Paper 95.

[3] Wade, P.R., et al. (2011) The world's smallest whale population? Biology Letters 7:83-85.

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