The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads

The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads

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Overview

In 1980 a group of scientists censusing marine mammals in the Bay of Fundy was astonished at the sight of 25 right whales. It was, one scientist later recalled, "like finding a brontosaurus in the backyard." Until that time, scientists believed the North Atlantic right whale was extinct or nearly so. The sightings electrified the research community, spurring a quarter century of exploration, which is documented here.

The authors present our current knowledge about the biology and plight of right whales, including their reproduction, feeding, genetics, and endocrinology, as well as fatal run-ins with ships and fishing gear. Employing individual identifications, acoustics, and population models, Scott Kraus, Rosalind Rolland, and their colleagues present a vivid history of this animal, from a once commercially hunted commodity to today's life-threatening challenges of urban waters.

Hunted for nearly a millennium, right whales are now being killed by the ocean commerce that supports our modern way of life. This book offers hope for the eventual salvation of this great whale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674034754
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Scott D. Kraus is Vice President for Research at the New England Aquarium.

Rosalind M. Rolland is Senior Scientist/Policy Analyst, Global Marine Programs and Research, the New England Aquarium.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • List of Marine Species
  • Abbreviations

  1. Right Whales in the Urban Ocean
    Scott D. Kraus and Rosalind M. Rolland
  2. Near-Annihilation of a Species: Right Whaling in the North Atlantic
    Randall R. Reeves, Tim D. Smith, and Elizabeth A. Josephson
  3. Right Whales Tell Their Own Stories: The Photo-Identification Catalog
    Philip K. Hamilton, Amy R. Knowlton, and Marilyn K. Marx
  4. Surveying for Discovery, Science, and Management
    Moira W. Brown, Scott D. Kraus, Christopher K. Slay, and Lance P. Garrison
  5. Enormous Carnivores, Microscopic Food, and a Restaurant That's Hard to Find
    Mark F. Baumgartner, Charles A. Mayo, and Robert D. Kenney
  6. High Investment, Low Return: The Strange Case of Reproduction in Eubalaena glacialis
    Scott D. Kraus, Richard M. Pace III, and Timothy R. Frasier
  7. Right Whales Past and Present as Revealed by Their Genes
    Timothy R. Frasier, Brenna A. Mcleod, Roxanne M. Gillett, Moira W. Brown, and Bradley N. White
  8. The Inner Whale: Hormones, Biotoxins, and Parasites
    Rosalind M. Rolland, Kathleen E. Hunt, Gregory J. Doucette, Lora G. Rickard, and Samuel K. Wasser
  9. External Perspectives on Right Whale Health
    Rosalind M. Rolland, Philip K. Hamilton, Marilyn K. Marx, Heather M. Pettis, Carolyn M. Angell, and Michael J. Moore
  10. Acoustic Communication: Social Sounds and the Potential Impacts of Noise
    Susan E. Parks and Christopher W. Clark
  11. Listening to Their World: Acoustics for Monitoring and Protecting Right Whales in an Urbanized Ocean
    Christopher W. Clark, Douglas Gillespie, Douglas P. Nowacek, and Susan E. Parks
  12. Right Whale Mortality: A Message from the Dead to the Living
    Michael J. Moore, William A. Mclellan, Pierre-Yves Daoust, Robert K. Bonde, and Amy R. Knowlton
  13. The Entangled Lives of Right Whales and Fishermen: Can They Coexist?
    Amanda J. Johnson, Scott D. Kraus, John F. Kenney, and Charles A. Mayo
  14. Running the Gauntlet: Right Whales and Vessel Strikes
    Amy R. Knowlton and Moira W. Brown
  15. Right Whales and Climate Change: Facing the Prospect of a Greenhouse Future
    Robert D. Kenney
  16. The Big Picture: Modeling Right Whales in Space and Time
    Lance P. Garrison
  17. The Urban Whale Syndrome
    Scott D. Kraus and Rosalind M. Rolland

  • Appendix A: Permit Information
  • Appendix B: Opportunistic Contributors to the Right Whale Catalog
  • Appendix C: Other Resources
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contributors
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

This book is a must for anyone interested in the plight of whales and their conservation. It describes the efforts of a group of biologists to understand why, nearly a century after whaling ceased, the right whale population off the eastern seaboard of America has not rebounded. Central to their research is a catalog of every individual right whale in the North Atlantic, tracking their 300 lives amid the dangers and detritus of our industrial culture. The authors present a sobering view of the threat our modern way of life poses to wildlife, but they balance this with their intense commitment to find a way to prevent the extinction of the right whale. Let us hope that they succeed.

Malcolm L. Hunter

This book tells an extraordinary story about one of the most compelling endangered species on the planet and it does so with great lucidity and depth. It also carries a fascinating subtext: the Herculean work of dozens of scientist-detectives who are struggling to unravel the mysteries of these creatures in time to prevent their extinction.
Malcolm L. Hunter, Jr., University of Maine

Peter L. Tyack

This book is a must for anyone interested in the plight of whales and their conservation. It describes the efforts of a group of biologists to understand why, nearly a century after whaling ceased, the right whale population off the eastern seaboard of America has not rebounded. Central to their research is a catalog of every individual right whale in the North Atlantic, tracking their 300 lives amid the dangers and detritus of our industrial culture. The authors present a sobering view of the threat our modern way of life poses to wildlife, but they balance this with their intense commitment to find a way to prevent the extinction of the right whale. Let us hope that they succeed.
Peter L. Tyack, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Joe Roman

Hunted to near extinction, the long-suffering right whales are now endangered by massive fast-moving ships and fixed fishing gear. If they survive, it will be in part thanks to this long-term study by Kraus and Rolland. They bring to the page both deep scientific understanding and intimate knowledge of these remarkable animals. This seems destined to become the definitive book on right whales for years to come, though I hope that some time soon a sequel about the species' successful recovery--not its extinction--will follow.
Joe Roman, Environmental Policy Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and author of Whale

Peter Best

The Urban Whale is the story of a population of 300 right whales living on the east coast of North America, facing a host of real and potential threats to their survival and procreation, many of them human-related. Seventeen chapters summarize the background and present the results of 25 years of research into this population, but it is the tales of the individual whales themselves--tragic Churchill, intrepid Shackleton, inspiring Calvin and the peripatetic Porter--that bring home the realities of the situation to the reader. This book is destined to become a classic amongst individual-based studies of mammal populations.
Peter Best, Extraordinary Professor, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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