Good news! Two new moms were sighted yesterday, bringing the total number of mother/calf pairs in the southeast to 5 so far this year. Thanks to the awesome work from the New England Aquarium, and the funding of NOAA Fisheries, we can look up the information on all of these moms using the North Atlantic right whale catalog. This is the most complete right whale identification resource available today, with over 200,000 photographs dating back to 1935! By using the work from the North Atlantic right whale DNA bank at Trent University, we are also able to sometimes determine the paternity of some whales too. This is much harder to do, but those guys are ever working on getting more and more pedigrees deciphered! Here is some info on the moms so far:
#1301 (Half Note): a 31 year old female, Half Note was born in 1983. While she has had 3 calves prior to this season, none of them have survived to adulthood. Unfortunately, no one quite knows why. We will all be rooting for her this season though! Another fun fact about Half Note is that her mother, #1001 (Fermata), was the first whale to be added to the right whale catalog! Her father is #1033.
#2040 (Naevus): a 24 year old female born in 1990. Naevus’ mother is #1140 (Wart), who was “famous” last year for having her calf in Cape Cod Bay. Naevus’ father is unknown.
#2123 (Couplet): a 23 year old female, Couplet was born in 1991. Her mother is #1123 (Sonnet) and her grandmother is #1142 (Kleenex). Couplet’s father was #1144 (Dingle).
#2503 (Boomerang): a 19 year old female born in 1995. Her mother is #1503 (Trilogy) and her grandmother is #1240 (Baldy). Baldy is at least 40 and was just spotted last year. Boomerang’s father is #1043.
#2645 (Insignia): an 18 year old female born in 1996. Her mother is #1245 (Slalom) and her grandmother is Wart. That means Insignia’s mother Slalom is the sister of Naevus. Although we don’t know the father of either of the sisters, it ultimately makes Naevus the aunt of Insignia! Pretty neat! I often wonder if they know…Insignia’s father is #1170 (Legs).
This is one of the things that makes the work the New England Aquarium and Trent University does so great: we are able to know so much about the ancestry of these individuals. And it is only going to get better! Check back at the end of the season for a SEUS mom family tree!