Interesting Facts About North Pacific Right Whales

When Being Right Is Deadly

The right whale got its name from whalers who called it the "right" whale to hunt. Right whales made ideal prey because they swim slowly and float after death. This made them easier to kill, retrieve and tow to shore or bring onboard vessels.

Beginning in 1835, North Pacific right whales were extensively hunted by sailing Yankee whalers who killed 80 percent of them within two decades. By 1960 the populations began to slowly recover. They were then targeted by illegal Soviet whaling, which decimated the remnant population.

Today the endangered eastern stock of North Pacific right whales is estimated to be 30 animals, making them the rarest large whale population in the world.