Endangered North Atlantic right whales are disappearing from customary feeding grounds off the U.S. and Canadian coasts and appearing in large numbers in other locations, leaving scientists to wonder if shifts in climate may be behind the changes.
Every summer and fall, endangered North Atlantic right whales congregate in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to gorge on zooplankton. Researchers have documented the annual feast since 1980, and well over 100 whales typically attend, a significant portion of the entire species. Only this year, they didn't. Just a dozen right whales trickled in —
a record low in the New England Aquarium's 34-year-old monitoring program. And that comes on the heels of two other low-turnout years, 2010 and 2012.
Numbers of the critically endangered marine mammal have been ticking up in recent years just past 500 individuals, so no one thinks the low turnout in the Bay of Fundy augurs a decline in the species as a whole. The right whales must have gone elsewhere. But where? And more importantly, why?
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