For more information about these majestic mammals, visit the New England Aquarium.

Did You Know?

  • North Atlantic right whales can weigh up to 60-70 tons, grow up to 15 m (49 feet) in length and live as long as 70 years.
  • Right whales can dive to at least 600 ft. and can stay submerged for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • They were called "right whales" because whalers believed they were the "right" ones to hunt since they were slow swimmers, floated after death and often swam within sight from shore.
  • Although protected for more than 75 years from hunting, the current population is estimated to be over 500 in the North Atlantic.
  • North Atlantic right whales are seasonally migratory. They inhabit colder waters for feeding in the spring, summer and fall, and then in the winter months mothers and some juveniles migrate to warmer waters for calving along the northeast coast of Florida.
  • North Atlantic right whales have distinctive patches of roughened skin called callosities. Since no two whales have the same pattern of callosities, researchers use them to identify individual whales and learn more about them every year.

North Atlantic right whale

The North Atlantic right whale was hunted almost to extinction. Over sixteen years ago, Irving Oil began working with the New England Aquarium to protect North Atlantic right whales and reroute shipping lanes away from right whale feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy. The risk of vessel collisions with whales has been reduced by 90% and the right whale population now numbers over five hundred.

Echo and her calf are two of the right whales that still need us.

Officially known as #2642 but affectionately known as Echo, the right whale mother in the photo has had two calves to date, including the one you see here. This wonderful maternal story of life may not have been possible if not for bold and continuing conservation efforts.

The Bay of Fundy is an environmental phenomenon - with the highest tides in the world, the bay is abundant with plankton, making this area a natural habitat for a variety of species including the endangered North Atlantic right whale; once hunted to almost extinction. The Bay of Fundy is also a commercial lifeline for thousands of businesses in the North Atlantic region.

That's why we partnered with the New England Aquarium and other concerned groups to help find a practical, science-based solution to helping protect Right Whales. Senior Irving Oil representatives participated along with whale scientists from the New England Aquarium, government agencies, fishers, Canadian academics, environmental groups and others to learn more, build awareness and find a safe solution.

By 2003, this team approach led the Canadian government to implement a four nautical mile shipping lane change to avoid the area with the greatest density of whales -- the first time shipping lanes had ever been altered to protect an endangered species.

According to North Atlantic right whale researchers at the New England Aquarium moving the shipping lanes has reduced the relative probability of a ship strike by 90 percent. Prior to the lane change about 30 percent of North Atlantic right whale sightings were in the shipping lanes; after the lane change, less than 2 percent of the North Atlantic right whales are now observed in the lanes.

Today, our work on behalf of the North Atlantic right whale continues as a partner in conservation for the New England Aquarium’s North Atlantic right whale education and research program. During feeding season in the summer months, researchers continue to track this endangered species, investigating additional ways to protect the remaining North Atlantic right whales in existence.