March 17th 2009 -
At the beginning of the 20th century it's estimated that only 100 right whales survived. The species had been hunted nearly to extinction. Today NOAA
estimates that there are about 325 and others believe there may be as many as 400. Right whales summer and fatten up in the waters off New England and Martime Canada. They winter and give birth to calves near Georgia and Florida. In the era before whaling they roamed all across the Atlantic to the shores of Europe and Africa. It has been illegal to hunt the right whale since 1935, when the League of Nations put them under protection. Today the right whale is helped with additional government regulations such as lowered speed limits for ships operating where right whales are present, fishing gear that's less likely to entangle them and by people who track them and assist them when they do become entangled. Here's more from Cornelia Dean at the NY Times.