CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 1999
"What whales really needed, I thought, was an advocate, an advocacy group, someone to speak out on their behalf because they're so threatened you have to watch out for any possible danger to them and try to intervene."Right whales are "one of nature's great losers." The populations that once numbered 50,000 whales were hunted so extensively that they were thought to be extinct. These baleen whales, which live on krill and plankton, weigh up to 100 tonnes. They have had international protection since the 1930s, but they spend half of the year feeding in the Bay of Fundy, off Nova Scotia, in the middle of a major shipping area and a locale for fishing nets. This situation makes them, in an unfortunate pun, "right whales in the wrong place." Unlike orcas, which are identified by their fins and colorations, right whales are identified by colosities (scab-like encrustations) and scars from collisions with boats. In 1980, during an aerial survey, 26 right whales were spotted, an event which set off scientific studies and educational efforts that were led by East Coast Ecosystems in Nova Scotia. The two champions of this video, Dr. Moira Brown and Deborah Tobin, started and work for East Coast Ecosystems, an organization dedicated to the conservation and monitoring of Right Whales. Dr. Brown, a Canadian zoologist, has been a pioneer in right whale research, and she studies them with her colleagues at the New England Aquarium. She has provided scientific information, especially regarding the identification of the 300 remaining right whales. Dr. Brown's partner is Deborah Tobin who concentrates her efforts in publicity, education and bureaucratic efforts.
The photography in this video is excellent, and the video gives a background on whaling and modern dangers to the whales, as well as new scientific developments. This video is a very useful tool to demonstrate different ways that the public can help to protect a specific species.
Betsy Fraser is a librarian with the Calgary Public Library.
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