north atlantic right whales

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The first mention of Basque whaling was made in 1059, when it was said to have been practiced at the Basque town of Bayonne. The fishery spread to what is now the Spanish Basque Country in 1150, when King Sancho the Wise of Navarre granted petitions for the warehousing of such commodities as whalebone (baleen). At first, they only hunted the whale they called sarda, or the North Atlantic Right Whale, using watchtowers (known as vigias) to look for their distinctive twin vapour spouts. By the 14th century they were making “seasonal trips” to the English Channel and southern Ireland. 

image: Right whale by Michelle


Extant cetaceans exhibit hyperphalangy, a condition where the finger have an increased number of bones. The first digit, however,has a reduced number of bones (so hypophalangy) and is actually absent in several baleen whales; only Pilot Whales have hyperphalangy on this digit. The fifth digit generally has the ancestral number of bones for baleen whales but toothed whales typically have reduction; Kogia is an exception with hyperphalangy. In toothed whales, the second and third digits have the most number of bones whereas in baleen whales it is the third and fourth digits.

First Image: (A) Orca, (B) Sperm Whale, © North Atlantic Right Whale, (D) Humpback Whale, (E) Ichthyosaur (Stenopterygius sp.)

Second Image: (A) Orca, (B) North Atlantic Right Whale, © Sei Whale

Cooper, L. et al. (2007) Evolution of Hyperphalangy and Digit Reduction in the Cetacean Manus. The Anatomical Record 290 654–672

Photo by @BrianSkerry
A 45 foot long, 70 ton Southern Right Whale hovers gracefully over the sandy sea floor in New Zealand’s Auckland Islands (sub Antarctic). Their cousins, the North Atlantic Right Whales, are the most endangered whale on Earth and though the Southern Rights are also endangered, their populations have increased better (since the whaling days) due to the fact they they live further away from industrialization and are less likely to be hit by ships or entangled in fishing gear.
Photographed #onassignment for @natgeo.
@thephotosociety #whales #rightwhales #newzealand #endangered #underwater
_________________________________________ by natgeo

This close-up photo of a right whale’s head shows dozens of hitchhikers—tiny crustaceans known as whale lice, or cyamid amphipods. They live on the rough patches of skin (known as callosities) on North Atlantic right whales, eating algae that settles there and only causing minor skin damage. Distinctive patterns formed by their white bodies crowding around rough patches on whales’ skin help researchers tell one right whale from another!

  • photo Michael Moore /WHOI