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Identifying and Reporting North Atlantic Right Whales

Learn how to report your sighting of North Atlantic Right whale.


Narrator: "Fisheries and Oceans Canada presents: Identifying and Reporting North Atlantic Right Whales"

Cathy Merriman: "I’m Cathy Merriman, a senior Species at Risk Biologist. I work with many partners to help North Atlantic right whales recover.

“If you ever see a right whale, DFO would love to know, because right whales are an endangered species. Scientists estimate there are only about 500 left in the North Atlantic Ocean and in eastern Canada. They range from Florida in the south to Newfoundland in the north. They are most often seen in the Bay of Fundy, Roseway Basin and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in summer and fall.

“North Atlantic right whales have a V-shaped blow, which makes them easy to distinguish when seen from a distance. Another way to tell them apart from other large whales is that they have no dorsal fin. They are mostly black, though some have white patches on their belly or chin. All right whales have crusty whitish-grey markings on their head and face, known as callosities. These marks are as unique as fingerprints, and help researchers identify each individual whale."

Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy: "Hello, I’m Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy. I’m a DFO Research Scientist and I study and monitor whales in Eastern Canada.

“You can see in this footage that right whales swim relatively slowly, especially while feeding. On the water, I often see them gathered in social groups of several whales. Right whales grow up to 17 meters in length. They are relatively stout, and their head is about one third of their body length.

“Please help DFO monitor right whales and report all sightings. Remember to provide important details about your sighting, including the number and type of whales seen, the date and time, and the location, such as your latitude and longitude. When possible, please share your photos and video as well.

“To report right whale sightings, please call  1-844-800-8568 or email

“If you see entangled, injured or dead whales, please contact the Marine Animal Response Society as soon as possible at  1-866-567-6277 or VHF Channel 16 or email"

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