The Cape Codder reports, “There have been many more right whales than usual this year,” noted Nathalie Jaquet, director of the Right Whale Aerial Survey at the Provincetown Center For Coastal Studies. “We’ve identified at least 120 whales. That’s out of a (worldwide) population of around 400.”
This congregation of critically endangered whales around Cape Cod is even more impressive than the late fall congregation at Passamaquoddy last year. Again, the whales seem to be delaying their migration; an apparent mystery to researchers.
But is this really a mystery? Like most creatures, whales will go where the food is. In a situation where food is more abundant than elsewhere they may well stay put. I submit that the Right Whales are the indicator. They may be, I suspect, showing us some interesting fundamental changes in the Gulf of Maine. The ocean is, we know, responding to changes in post glacial temperature trends that have long been understood. Exacerbated by humans or not, these changes have been in play for a long time as indicated by the northward expansion of the range of many marine and terrestrial species.
In order to understand the future of Right Whales and other plankton-dependent we need to reinvest in research that will allow us to understand the changes that are currently underway but more particularly to begin to develop strategies for responding in the future …. and it seems, the future is now!