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Scientists on research vessel spot rare whale in Bering Sea

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:27 am

Federal researchers studying critically endangered North Pacific right whales sometimes go years without finding their subjects. Over the weekend they got lucky.

A research vessel in the Bering Sea photographed two of the animals Sunday and obtained a biopsy sample from one, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

NOAA Fisheries research biologist Jessica Crance was on board the Yushin Maru 2, when the whales were spotted. The ship is part of the Pacific Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research program, a collaborative effort headed by the International Whaling Commission. Using an acoustic recorder, and between sounds of killer whales and walrus, Crance picked up faint calls of a right whale east of Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The sounds came from an estimated 10 to 32 miles away and the ship headed west, she said in a blog entry. After four and a half hours, despite the presence of minke and humpback whales, and only a few calls from the right whales, the rare animals were spotted.

The two right whales are part of the eastern stock that number just 30 to 50 whales, said Phillip Clapham, head of the cetacean program at NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:29 am



National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry describes a magical but risky experience photographing an enormous right whale off the coast of New Zealand.

 
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