Migration Mystery

Habitat Map

Approximately 500 right whales are thought to be alive today, according to the number of whales recently photographed and individually identified. Right whales give birth to calves off the coast of Florida and Georgia during the winter months and a few tens of other whales congregate in Cape Cod Bay at that time and into the Great South Channel east of Cape Cod in the early spring. The rest of the population disappears from human observation during the winter and scientists have yet to discover the wintering ground for most of the population.

By mid-summer and into the fall months, large numbers of right whales migrate to Canadian waters, where they are frequently observed in the Bay of Fundy and sometimes on the western Scotian Shelf. Although most (about two thirds) of the population can be found in Canadian waters during the summer and early fall months, the rest of the population is unaccounted for at that time. Some scientists believe that they may be found in historical whaling areas like between the coasts of Greenland and Iceland.

In May, 1999 a North Atlantic right whale named Porter was photographed east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The same whale was again sighted and photographed in northern Norway in September 1999 and was back in Cape Cod Bay during the winter of 2000 - a trek of over 7120 miles (11500 kilometres) !