Canadian Wildlife Federation and TD Bank fund vital right whale research
OTTAWA, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - A unique whale research expedition in the Gulf of Maine is now underway, with support from the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and TD Bank. The mission is to assess if this area is the mating ground for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. The research team is made up of seven right whale scientists from the New England Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute, and is led by renowned Canadian scientist Dr. Moira Brown.
"We have long known that there is an undiscovered right whale mating ground," advised Dr. Brown, senior scientist, New England Aquarium, Canadian Whale Institute. "With a population of only 450, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered large whales in the world, so discovering the breeding ground is integral to their conservation."
The first two of four surveys took place in November, and yielded favorable results. During both surveys, right whales where spotted and photographed, one being adult female who had her last calf in 2009 and is due to get pregnant. According to Dr. Brown, if the same female is seen next season with a calf, this will help confirm that the Jordan Basin/Outer Fall area located about 60 miles south of Mount Desert Island area is indeed a right whale mating ground.
"The mission of the Canadian Wildlife Federation is to educate people on how to conserve wildlife and other natural resources so that we can achieve an equitable and sustainable future," said Wade Luzny, CEO, Executive Vice-President, CWF. "We are very excited to be a part of such an important study which will help us achieve this goal"
Research plans include photo IDs, biopsies and the collection fecal samples, which will allow scientists to examine hormones and help characterize the sexes and reproductive status of the whales to assess if they are sexually active.
"Protecting the environment by supporting key research and education initiatives is a priority for TD," said Scott Mullin, Vice President of Community Relations for TD Bank Financial Group. "The international collaboration that's taking place between these two world-class aquatic research institutions is impressive, and we're honored to support the efforts of Dr. Brown and her team of researchers."
Data from this study will be available to managers and policy makers so that they can develop area specific protective measures such as those implemented in other known right whale habitat areas.
The seasonal aggregation of right whales near Jordan Basin was first identified in 2004 by a group of government scientists from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (Woods Hole, MA) during aerial surveys of the Gulf of Maine. Right whales have been seen consistently in this area in November, December and sometime into January since 2004.
About Canadian Wildlife Federation
CWF is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes, and cooperating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians may live in harmony with nature. Visit www.cwf-fcf.org for more information.
About TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
Since 1990, TD FEF has provided more than $53 million in funding to over 19,000 grassroots environment and wildlife projects across Canada. Thousands of donors give to TD FEF on a monthly basis and TD Bank Financial Group contributes in excess of $1 million annually. TD also covers the management costs of running TD FEF, which guarantees 100 per cent of every dollar donated goes directly to funding environment and wildlife projects in the community where the donation was made. For more information on how to donate and get involved in your community, visit www.tdfef.com.
About Canadian Whale Institute
CWI is dedicated to facilitating research, conservation and stewardship of the North Atlantic Right Whale. Through right whale research CWI has played a major role in the recovery of the species. It has contributed to the development of the recovery plan, the relocation of the Bay of Fundy shipping lanes and outreach material to educate fishermen, mariners and policy makers about right whales. For more information on right whales, visit www.rightwhale.ca.
About New England Aquarium
New England Aquarium scientists have created the world's most extensive data base of all of known North Atlantic right whales. Accessible to the public via the Aquarium website, the catalog of over 45,000 photographed sightings allows scientists to identify whales by their callosities - or roughened skin patches on top of their head and to also monitor the level of vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements. Scientists can then track their whereabouts, births, death and other information. The Aquarium's North Atlantic Right Whale Research Program has a variety of online resources available to help visitors understand how right whales are tracked and studied. Visit http://rwcatalog.neaq.org for more information. Follow our expedition blog at http://rightwhales.neaq.org/.
For further information: For further information:
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Pam Logan, A/Manager of Communications
Canadian Wildlife Federation
Tel (613)599-9594 ext. 250
Email [email protected]
TD Bank Financial Group
Email [email protected]