North pacific right whale numbers dropping

[14 July, 2010] The world's smallest whale population has been identified in the north of the Pacific Ocean, where a genetically distinct group of north pacific right whales has dropped down to total less than 30.

There are only two populations of north pacific right whales left on the planet, one in southeast of the Bering Sea, and another in the north-western Pacific Ocean near Russia.

Scientists believe that only eight females and just over 20 males are left in the north of the Pacific Ocean. Reports from the 1800's suggest that the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska once was home to over 23,000 of the north pacific right whales.

These large baleen whales now fall under the threshold of what the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) deems the threshold of likely viability as a species.

Little is known about the other population of north pacific right whales near Russia, believed to number in the hundreds. The whales in the north-western Pacific Ocean are faring slightly better - though still deemed to be "critically endangered" by the IUCN.

  • NSW Government
  • National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW