Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life of Southern Right Whale

Life of Sea | Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) | Southern Right Whale is one of an endangered marine in the world. Its population has been reduced since the whale is "right" to hunt. They were thought to be the "right" whales to hunt because they were large (thus rich in oil and blubber) and slowly moving. They also came close inshore and because of all the oil they floated when killed. Now, scientists guess that there are around 5,000 Southern right whales in the world. In Australia, Southern right whales are protected. They are listed as a threatened species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. The whales are often seen in very shallow water, including estuaries and bays. They have even been known to swim in the surf zone. You can find them in Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Southern right whales have bow-shaped lower jaws, and massive heads that measure up to one-quarter of their body length. They have very small eyes and large flippers. As with all baleen whales, the females are slightly larger than males. They have dark color and white callosities found on and around the head. Southern right whales are generally the smaller of the three right whale species (the North Atlantic right whales, and North Pacific right whales). Callosities, which are outgrowths of tough skin, are often used in identifying individual whales, as they are unique to each animal, similar to fingerprints in humans. The largest of these excrescences (callosities) is located on the anterior-most portion of the head and is referred to as the "bonnet." Other excrescences are on the upper edge of the lower jaw, behind the blowhole, and above the eye.

Southern right whales use their their long and numerous baleen plates to feed on small plankton, including pelagic larval crustaceans and copepods. They are most often observed using one of two feeding techniques. The first, surface feeding, occurs when the whales selectively swim through densely-populated plankton slicks with their mouths wide open and baleen exposed. The other method occurs while submerged, presumably in highly dense populations of plankton. Basically, Southern right whales migrate from its summer eating grounds near Antarctica to their breeding grounds of the southern continent like Australia, South America and Africa in Winter.

In fact, Southern right whale populations are showing a slow increase since international protection in 1935, when over-exploitation nearly eradicated the species. There are estimated to be approximately 3,000-4,000 currently surviving in the southern hemisphere. Aside from international protection, individual countries are also protecting these whales and improving their ability to survive and reproduce.

In Brazil the Right Whale Project has been in effect since 1981. The program's goal is to protect the whales in their breeding grounds off the coast of South Brazil. Program participants monitor and research the current situation, and inform the public about the importance of environmental protection. Since its establishment, the program has, among other beneficial actions, gotten the government for the State of Santa Catarina to declare southern right whales as a state natural monument, thereby assuring its full protection.

Other countries have also vowed to minimize human impacts on whale populations. This idea has been followed through by reducing direct disturbance and coastal industrial activity, as well as increasing awareness of the hazards of oceanic dumping that may lead to bioaccumulation and possible extinction.

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