The distributional biology of the right whale ( Eubalaena glacialis) in the western North Atlantic.

H. E. Winn, C. A. Price, P. W. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Calving occurs during winter off Georgia and Florida. The winter distribution of social units other than cow-calf pairs is poorly known. In spring, large numbers of right whales arrive in the Great South Channel (between Cape Cod and Georges Bank) where they feed for up to several months and in the Cape Cod-Massachusetts Bay area. In June they migrate across the Gulf of Maine to the Bay of Fundy and the SE Scotian Shelf, where they also feed for several months. In late October-November, they leave these areas, presumably migrating rapidly southward with no prolonged stops along the way. Social behavior was not distributed differently with regard to water depth, bottom slope or surface temperature, and occurred throughout the northern feeding range. The whales are located generally in water with surface temperatures of 8-15oC, over areas 100-200 m deep except in the shallower Cape Cod Bay and adjacent to steeply sloping bottom topography. Calves were observed closer to shore and in shallower areas with steeper sloping bottom topography than non-calf sightings. Surface feeding sightings occurred at shallower depths than non-feeding sightings and were generally uncommon except in Cape Cod Bay. The patchy distribution of the right whale is probably related to a similar patchiness of their principal prey, Calanus finmarchicus. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalReports - International Whaling Commission, Special Issue
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986


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