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Whale Reports | Whale Report 3
Right Whale Encounter with Orcas
Author David Snow, Wildland Tours
Right whales used to be very common off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and were the basis of a massive 16th Century whaling industry off the southern Labrador coast. Today the centuries of hunting have left us with fewer than 400 right whales in the North Atlantic and they are rarely seen in the places they were once most common. The wildlife logs of Wildland Tours report less than a dozen right whale sightings off Newfoundland and Labrador since 1990. The Bay of Fundy is the only place in North America where one can reliably see some of the North Atlantic's few remaining right whales.
The battles between rights and orcas are the stuff of legends. In recent years, a report out of Cape Cod was found online describing an encounter between a small group of right whales and four orcas. The piece reported how the orcas "checked out" the right whales but said there was no contact or obvious predation attempts. The event was witnessed from an aircraft and although there is no follow up information, the final observation was of the orcas swimming away from the right whales. Unfortunately the website that included photos of the event is no longer on line. The photos did not allow us to tell if these were orcas known from our catalogue but it is still an interesting tale.
Dave Snow has written numerous articles and special publications on seabirds, whales, and marine ecology. Wildland Tours promotes and coordinates the Newfoundland and Labrador portion of the world-wide humpback whale census. This population has been found to be the planet's largest feeding gathering of humpbacks. The study of whale numbers provides important insights into oceanic health.