Right whales found in the western North Atlantic are endangered due to a high rate of injury and fatalities from colliding with ships and getting caught in fishing gear. The Right whale is also threatened by contimation to their habitat and by climate change. Efforts to protect the Right whale began in 1931 with regulations on whaling. In 1970 they became listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Conservation Act.
Right whales were almost hunted to extinction before hunting them was banned in 1937. Their name comes from the fact they they were considered the “right whale” to hunt since they swim slowly, float when killed, and often swim near the shore.
Like maggie said many whalers called them the “right” whale because they were the easiest to catch. They swam close to shore and were easily spotted by beach lookouts and because they swam slow, it allowed whalers to easily catch up to them. Hunting of these whales began as early as the 11th century by the native Basque people and were soon replaced by Yankee whalers. After the banning of right whales in 1937, the population began to slowly grow, but there are problems today which still cause the right whales to be exceedingly rare.Ship strikes have been a problem resulting in 16 ship strike deaths between 1970 and 1999. According to NOAA, 25 of the 71 right whale deaths reported since 1970 resulted from ship strikes.
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