Extinction Countdown: Right whale nearly gone?

So I on reading my emails this morning I was reminded about the plight of the right whale. It’s nearly gone. As I concluded under The Eclipse,

Current trends indicate our children will inherit a planet we hardly recognise, with half the biodiversity extinct by 2050 and many living in poverty and starvation. We can and must do better. Do we really want to leave them a denuded and depleted planet, with weakened ecosystems and a shameful legacy of destruction?

Over to Scientific American:


One of the world’s only two populations of North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) has declined to the point where it will probably not survive.

According to new research published online June 30 in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society in London, the eastern population of North Pacific right whale has shrunk to approximately 30 members, only eight of which are female, possibly making it the world’s smallest whale population.

The eastern population of this whale species lives in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. A genetically distinct western population in Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk is believed to number as few as 300 or as many as 900 whales. The two populations are considered isolated from one another and have not been known to mingle. Neither population is well studied because the whales are so rare.

The paper calls the near-disappearance of the species a “direct consequence of uncontrolled and illegal whaling, and highlights the past failure of international management to prevent such abuses.”

via Extinction Countdown: Rights wronged: North Pacific right whale nearly extinct in Bering Sea.

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