Right whales once occupied the northern
Pacific Oceans and are now one of the rarest mammals (Wilson
and Ruff 1999, Waite et al. 2003). They were hunted from the
beginning of whaling 800 years ago until the height of Yankee
commercial whaling in the 19th century. The species
was once abundant in the north Pacific. That any survive in
the north Pacific today is remarkable and provides a glimmer
of hope that the right whale might one day recover to its
former abundance. However, there are no immediate signs of
recovery. Although it is regularly sighted in
the winter quarters are not known. Right whales are about 17
meters long and weight 60 to 100 tonnes (Wilson and Ruff
1999). Individual whales can be distinguished by
characteristic growths on their heads known as callosities.
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