Sea Grant ID's right whale off Kodiak

01/09/2012

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NR: SG-2012/NB036

northern right whale off Kodiak, Alaska Northern right whale. Photo courtesy Beth and Amy Pingree, Kodiak, Alaska.

Kodiak, Alaska—Alaska Sea Grant Marine Mammal Specialist Kate Wynne is making news in the new year with her identification of an endangered northern right whale in Kodiak waters. Kodiak's KMXT-FM reporter Jennifer Canfield said that last month Beth and Amy Pingree were taking photos of humpback whales near their home in Uganik Bay. They're part of a whale observation and sighting network, and they sent pictures and detailed descriptions of an unusual-looking humpback to Kate Wynne who is based at the UAF Kodiak Center. Wynne identified the photos as being of an endangered right whale. Just to be sure, Wynne sent the photos and details to colleagues at NOAA in Seattle, Washington. They confirmed Wynne's identification.

Wynne says the creatures, which can grow to 60 feet long and live up to 100 years, were named right whales because commercial whalers in the 1800s considered them the "right" whale to hunt. They were often sighted close to shore, were known to be friendly—sometimes coming right up to the boats—and their corpses would float. All of this made them very easy prey. KMXT's Jennifer Canfield spoke with Wynne, who says this sighting is very unusual for several reasons. Listen to Kate's comments [mp3; 1.6 MB].

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a statewide marine research, education, communication, and extension service at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Alaska Sea Grant is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and private industry.

The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is a statewide university extension and technical assistance program that helps Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy Alaska's marine and coastal resources.