The North Atlantic right whale is highly endangered, but this year’s calving season offers a more optimistic outlook for the future of the species. According to environmentalists, this has been the most successful breeding season for the whale since 2013 with 18 new calves recorded off the East Coast of the United States this spring.
There are currently only 350 to 400 North Atlantic right whales alive in the wild, so 18 new calves is an incredibly encouraging number. According to experts, this boom is in part due to the birth of at least 10 female calves a decade ago which have finally reached reproductive maturity.
Right whales are endangered due to hunting stretching back as early as the 9th century. Although laws have been enacted to protect them from hunting, they are still threatened by interactions with commercial fishing operations and reduced food supply due to climate change.
Conservation efforts, as well as quieter waters during the pandemic, have helped support these whales and although the species is still vulnerable, the birth of 18 calves is an encouraging sign that North Atlantic right whale populations could be bouncing back.