April 15th is North Atlantic Right Whale day.  It's a day for us to marvel at these magnificent marine mammals and to appreciate just how dire the situation is for endangered right whales.

For starters, there are only about 400 North Atlantic right whales left on the planet. That is an extraordinarily low number. To put that into perspective, there are more students attending the Wood School in Fairhaven today than there are right whales on the entire planet, and it's not even close.

Unfortunately, according to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the lifespan of these whales has been dramatically cut over time. A right whale's life expectancy was once thought to be between 50 and 70 years. Now, that life span has plummeted to a mere 15 years. The major threats to the species are entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, marine debris, noise pollution, and toxins. The 49-foot skeleton that hangs at the Whaling Museum is that of a pregnant North American right whale that was struck by a ship and killed.

To help visitors learn about North Atlantic right whales and how human activity affects whales, the Whaling Museum has put together hands-on learning activities that are fun as well as instructive. On Right Whale Day, visitors to the Whaling Museum can:

  • Climb inside a life-size inflatable right whale to see the biology of this creature first hand
  • Try fun marine-themed crafts.
  • Try a right whale obstacle course.
  • Check out the new life-size model of a right whale head. (You can see the baleen that acts like a filter when the whales are feeding on zooplankton)
  • Explore newly-expanded whale science exhibits in Whales Today.

Right Whale Day is presented in partnership with New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance, National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA), and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.