Saturday, January 19, 2008

Introducing Nothern Right Whales Arpeggio And Her Calf!

Last evening I received permission from Joy Hampp and Jim Hain to post this photo of Arpeggio and her calf. It is the property of Jim Hain and The Marineland Right Whale Project and was taken by Joy at Beverly Beach, FL on December 10th. They estimate the baby was at least 6 days old in this photo.

Photos like this one are extremely important to the Project for identifying the whales. If you look at Arpeggio's head you'll notice a white patch, that white patch is called callosities. Callosities are basically whale lice that lives in/on the whales skin.

The first time I met Jim, he explained to me and everyone at our office that the callosities are like our fingerprints. They remain in the same place on the whale for it's life span. I imagine they do cover a larger area on the babies as the babies grow.

Photos like the one above are added to a catalog of Right Whales that is used by many different agencies dedicated to help keep these creatures safe. This way they can track their journeys north and south, how old they are, if and when they've had a calf. They also use it to keep track of the number of Northern Right Whales in the ocean.

Ariel photos, if the weather cooperates, are incredible. Some of the photos I've seen of these amazing creatures from above would take your breath away. The scientists can get a better look at the callosities and learn more about the whales "behaviors" without disturbing them. For instance like the photo I told you about yesterday of Arpeggio on her back with her calf resting its head on her chest. We can't see that type of interaction from the shore, unless one is lucky enough to have a waterfront condo at least 2 stories up.

Some good news:

The first time I saw a Northern Right Whale in 2004, their total count at that time was about 350. Only 350 of them in the world..

When I spoke to Jim a couple weeks ago I asked him how many whales did he think there were now.

He told me they believe the number of whales has now increased to 400!

This is great news, increasing the number of whales by 50 in 4 years may not seem a lot, but given the dangers they face and their slow reproduction rate, this number was more then I expected.

Remember, if you spot a whale off shore,
Please call The Marineland Right Whale Project at
You can find contact info for Joy Hammp or Jim Hain here

Also, if you are in a boat, it is illegal to come within
500 yds of Northern Right Whales.


Sarah Cooper said...

That's an AMAZING increase!! I feel better reading that. :)

If Tall One ever rolls out of bed, I need to have her read your whale posts. She was just telling my boss the other night about how she's going to be a marine biologist. (He said his son wanted to do that, for about a month, then moved on -- as if it were a phase. When we told him this is what she's been planning for since preschool, he took her more seriously and asked a lot of questions.)

And thanks for taking other people's pictures seriously and passing on that message. :)

Lysa Napolitano said...

Sarah, I was so excited by their increase in numbers too! That means the saftey measures put in place are slowly working :)

Does Tall One have vacation around this time of year? I would love for her to visit (and the rest of you) so she could meet the Survey Crews and the members of the Project and possibly see a whale herself. Ya'll are always welcome!

Lysa Napolitano said...

Oh ~ as far as posting photos go, being the amature photographer myself, I do take it very seriously. I just hope I wasn't too stern on the other post with my "disclaimer"

Jack Boardman said...

Lysa, they are indeed magnificent mammals! I'm glad you were given permission to post that photo. ;-)

Lysa Napolitano said...

Jack, Me too! I hope they will send me an overhead shot to publish as well!