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Nature Oceans & Seas

Disappearing Giants

The North Atlantic Right Whale

by (author) Scott Kraus, Marilyn Marx, Heather Pettis, Amy Knowlton & Ken Mallory

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Nov 2019
Oceans & Seas, NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Mammals
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
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The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is the most endangered large whale in the oceans today. Fewer than 400 are left in their breeding and feeding grounds, which extend from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. Survivors of hundreds of years of commercial exploitation, the right whales we see in the ocean today are barometers for the plight of whales. For over 900 years, whalers hunted these animals almost out of existence. By 1935, when they were at last given international protection, some scientists suspected that there were fewer than 100 right whales left in the North Atlantic Ocean. Most thought the right whale was doomed to extinction.

The North Atlantic Right Whale describes and illustrates an ongoing story of science and rediscovery, of survival and protection, and of research, without which we cannot hope to protect the right whale's habitat along 1,400 miles of the east coast of North America, from Nova Scotia to Florida.

This book also describes in great detail the history and current status of the species, from the reason for its name, to the way each individual can be recognized, the species' feeding and breeding habits, migration, and life in the wilderness of the Atlantic Ocean.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Dr. Scott Kraus
Dr. Scott Kraus has more than 40 years of field research on whales and dolphins. He has been a research scientist in the Aquarium's Research Laboratory since 1980, and has published more than 150 papers on marine mammals, bluefin tuna, harbor porpoise, fisheries, and bycatch. Scott has worked on the biology of North Atlantic right whales since 1980, publishing numerous papers on right whale biology and conservation. Scott is co-editor of The Urban Whale, a 2007 Harvard University Press book on right whales in the North Atlantic. He was a member of the original U.S. National Right Whale Recovery Team, served on the U.S. Large Whale Take Reduction Team, is the current Chair of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium and is a member of the research faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Scott is Emeritus Scientist of the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium.
Scott was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and now splits his time between Georgetown, Massachusetts and Sandwich, New Hampshire

Marilyn Marx
Marilyn Marx began her career in right whale research in 1985 at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts where she studied right whale habitat use in Cape Cod Bay. In 1994, she joined the New England Aquarium's Right Whale Research Program. She is involved with the curation and maintenance of the Right Whale Catalog and is responsible for reviewing all images of catalogued whales for evidence of anthropogenic (human-caused) scarring. Marilyn also manages the Right Whale Sponsorship Program and is the editor of its newsletter, Right Whale Research News. She has been an observer aboard hundreds of vessel and aerial surveys and has participated in large whale research projects in Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, and the Dominican Republic.
Marilyn was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and now resides in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Heather Pettis
As a research scientist at the New England Aquarium for 20 years, Heather Pettis' primary research interests are using visual health assessments to examine trends in right whale health at both the individual and population levels and to investigate the impact of anthropogenic injuries on right whale health and survival over time. She played an integral role in the development of the visual health assessment technique for right whales and has advised researchers in the development of assessments for other cetacean species. She serves as the executive administrator for the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, a collaborative data sharing group committed to long-term research and management efforts to provide management, academic, and conservation groups with the best scientific advice and recommendations on right whale conservation. She is also interested in photo-identification and population monitoring.
Originally from Enfield, New Hampshire, Heather currently resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two daughters.

Amy Knowlton
Amy Knowlton is a Senior Scientist who has worked on the Right Whale Research Program since 1983. She has been involved in all aspects of the program, including fieldwork, curation of the photo-identification catalog, assessment of human impacts, and policy efforts to protect right whales. Amy's main focus has been the detailed documentation of human impacts on right whales, including fishing-gear entanglement and vessel strikes. By evaluating these data in-depth and linking these findings with the operational aspects of the fishing and shipping industries, she has been able to share these findings with industry groups and guide policy changes in order to improve the protection of right whales from these activities.
Amy was born in Wynnewood, PA but spent many of her formative years in Marion, MA. She presently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ken Mallory

Kenneth Mallory is a critically acclaimed author and former Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Programs at Boston's New England Aquarium. He is also co-author with Scott Kraus of a children's book entitled The Search for the Right Whale: How Scientists Rediscovered the Most Endangered Whale in the Sea Crown (New York, NY), 1993.
He was born in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and lives in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts.