The Fucking Right Whale

People who know me in real life know I’m obsessed with marine mammals. To the point of having a tattoo of a dolphin (not like a basic chick though. It’s totally unique… quit judging me.)

One of my least favorites is the right whale. So named as they were the right whale to hunt. Large, slow, float when killed… etc…

They come in three flavors; North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) and Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis).

They’re baleen whales (mysticete if you want to sound fancy). They have dark skin and lighter undersides. (Countershading.)

They develop callosites (clusters of rough skin that accumulates whale lice) that “look like facial hair”.

So outside of whaling, the major causes of death are ship strikes and entanglement. They get hit by boats so often that’s how aerial and boat surveys identify individuals. Callosites and strike marks. So, of course, we have to help them!

The wonderful marine biologists tried to help. These whales tend to stay close to the coast. They migrate from the Arctic down to the tip of Florida. While they’re migrating, they don’t eat. This is particularly fucking awful because they get entangled and starve to death slowly. The reason they don’t eat more is because their favored prey (copepods) are in the Arctic. To reduce ship strikes, they started using a “warning” tone to warn the whales. When this happens, they go positively buoyant right under the surface and do not move which didn’t help with the strikes. So current strike reduction methods are having larger ships reducing their speed to 10 knots in known migration area.

As mentioned before, the whalers targeted these whales because they float when they die. Their shit also floats. (I found this out in an environmental physiology lecture.)

I’m sure there is more I can add but right this minute, I’m drawing a blank. Blame it on lack of sleep.

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