Scientists announced at a conference in Oregon this week that right whales have been found in an area where they were presumed extinct. The area is called Cape Farewell Ground, and is off the southern tip of Greenland. Cape Farewell Ground was a busy hunting ground during the 19th century, and no more than 2 whales have been seen there over the last 50 years. It is also an area that may be prone to increased shipping activity soon if more ice melts due to global warming.
The whales were never seen, but they were heard. In fact, the scientists recorded more than 2,000 right whale vocalizations in the area from July through December 2007. Since the whales weren't seen, the scientists don't know how many there are, but said there are at least three whales, since the calls came from three widely-spaced sites. Three may not sound like a big deal, but it is to a whale whose population numbers only in the hundreds. It will be interesting to follow further studies in this area - hopefully there is a group of right whales there just waiting to be discovered!