Only 360 of these whales remain. Video shows newborn ‘vital’ to recovery of species

North Atlantic right whales teeter on the threshold of extinction, with only 360 of them left.

To honor and celebrate the right whale, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts shared a dynamic video of a massive, 37-year-old right whale swimming with her newborn calf on social media April 24. The video was shot “earlier this month” in Cape Cod Bay.

According to the institution, the calf is one of 19 babies born to the species this winter, a triumph for such a critically endangered animal.

“Every calf is vital to the species’ recovery,” WHOI said in a post on Facebook.

In the 1800s, people hunted these massive creatures to the “brink of extinction,” according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whales got their name from being the “right” whales to hunt because they floated when dead, making them easy to gather.

While whaling is no longer a threat, right whales have never returned to their pre-whaling numbers.

Now, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “The species is dying faster than they can reproduce, largely due to entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with ships.”

If left unharmed, right whales can live as long, or longer, than people, according to NOAA. They also grow to be 52 feet in length.

“To help protect endangered marine mammals,” WHOI said, “WHOI and its partners are researching, developing, and actively deploying whale detection systems and on-demand fishing gear.”

Simultaneously, the Center for Coastal Studies is working to make slow-down warnings for ships and boats ubiquitous in areas where right whales frequent.

In its Right Whale Emergency Initiative, the center is also working to “improve seasonal fisheries regulations, increase the probability of finding and freeing entangled whales, and raise public awareness of these critically endangered animals that desperately need our help to survive.”

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