Right Whale
WhaleNet &
the Right Whale
Conservation Program's
Early Warning System

Right Whale Unit on
Micro-movements and
Macro-movements of Whales


The goals of this activity are to observe and analyze the movements of a specific Right Whales, such as "Rat" "Rat" (RWC#1509), in their winter habitat off of the coasts of Georgia and Florida. (1997 Curriculum Unit of "Rat" a right whale.)

Right whales are seen off of Florida and Georgia quite frequently. They have been previously seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and they have been a regular in Massachusetts Bay. The Right Whales are also seen in the Bay of Funday.

Using the tools given below and other tools that you may have you can determine and study the range of movement of right whales while at this end of its migration. Some questions that you might want to address are:

How far does it travel in a day?
In what depth of water is it most of the time?
Why do you think it likes this area?
It there much human activity in this area? If so, what kind?
What impact or effect might this human activity have on this whale population?


Most whales move throughout their lifetimes. Some movements are long and othersare short.

The longer movements (macro-movements) are usually called migrations and the endpoints of the migrations are places where they feed and where they breed. The feeding areas are usually toward the polar waters where the waters are more productive, and the breeding areas are usually in tropical or subtropical waters where the waters are warmer, but less productive.

The shorter movements (micro-movements) are how whales use the local habitat in which they are located. These localizied movements are usually foraging movements in feeding areas, but in warmer breeding areas there are still many questions to be answered.

This activity is based on actual research data taken in January and February of 1998 in the breeding area of a Northern Right Whale population. It is estimated that there are only 300 to 350 Northern Right Whales in this population so all research knowledge is very important.

The Right Whale Conservation Program at the New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts coordinates the Early Warning System. The Southeast Right Whale Early Warning System page.

Early Warning System 1997 Weekly Reports

Early Warning System 1998 Reports

EWS 1998 Data Table of Sightings

EWS Right Whale Biopsy Program Information

Right Whale 1998 Research Logs (follow along with the research team), Background and logs

MAP: Maps to download and use to plot the fixes

Color Map
Black and White Map

Florida/Georgia - Right Whale Early Warning System Reports
  • 1998 - Right Whale Early Warning System Reports
  • 1997 - Right Whale Early Warning System Reports
    Early Warning System 1997 Sightings Map

  • NOAA Marine Sanctuaries and Right Whale Links
    NOAA Marine Sanctuaries
    NOAA/NMFS Northern Right Whale Sighting Information
    1997, 1998, 1999 Right Whale Alerts
    Right Whale Reports

    Tools and Links:

    The Beaufort Scale /Sea State Scale(Northern Illinois Univeristy)
    Whale Species Identification Chart :Allied Whale/College of the Atlantic
    Specimen Images Listed by Phylum (images)
    Marine Mammal Classifications and descriptions by species
    Map Generator
    Distance generator from any two points
    Tide Generator and Current Predictor
    Maps to chart data:

    Color Map
    Black and White Map

    Sites with Information on Right Whales:
    The habits of whales - Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
    Protected species -National Marine Fisheries Service Cetaceans Page
    National Marine Fisheries ServiceRecovery Plan for the Northern Right Whale
    National Marine Fisheries Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester, MA
    Northeast Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, MA

    Mariners are urged to maintain a sharp lookout and use caution around right whales. Approach closer than 500 yards is prohibited and may result in violation of federal or state law.


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