Skip to content
All news
  • All news
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Corporates
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Science
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
  • Stranding
This dead right whale calf had injuries consistent with a vessel strike, including fresh propeller cuts on its back and head, broken ribs, and bruising. Photo: FWC/Tucker Joenz, NOAA Fisheries permit #18786

Emergency Right Whale Petition Seeks Overdue Protections From Vessel Strikes

This dead right whale calf had injuries consistent with a vessel strike, including fresh propeller...
Icelandic hunting vessels in port

Whaling boat kept in port after more hunt cruelty exposed

Icelandic whale hunting fleet One of the whaling boats involved in the latest hunts in...
Commerson's dolphin

New Important Marine Mammal Areas added to global ocean conservation list

Commerson's dolphin Experts from a number of countries have mapped out a new set of...
Fin whale shot with two harpoons

Whalers kill just days after Iceland’s hunt suspension is lifted

Whalers in Iceland have claimed their first victims since the lifting (just a few days...

New North Atlantic Right Whale Names Unveiled for 2020

PHOTO COURTESY: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit #20556
PHOTO COURTESY: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit #20556

BOSTON, MASS. (December 3, 2020) – Researchers have named 18 North Atlantic right whales this year, continuing a tradition that allows scientists in the field to quickly recognize the critically endangered individuals.

New England Aquarium researchers who manage the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog—a photo identification database developed by the Aquarium for the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium—organize sightings of individual whales by assigning them four-digit numbers. Once a year, whales that have particularly distinct features or a strong story connection to their history are nominated to receive names. Researchers and members of the public can propose names, which are then narrowed down and voted upon by right whale field team members.


Right whales are amazing and so are you.


“By giving these whales names based on their marking, we are able to recognize them in real-time from a boat or a plane. We see the distinctive heart-shape scar and immediately know it is Aphrodite, #1701, named after the goddess of love,” said Philip Hamilton, research scientist at the New England Aquarium who manages the Catalog.

This year’s “graduating class” was unveiled at the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium annual meeting in late October. The Aquarium and Whale and Dolphin Conservation collaborated to create playful bios for the whales, which can be read here. Among the newly named whales is Snowcone (Catalog #3560), a 15-year-old female who has a callosity (natural markings) on her head in the shape of the summertime treat. In a nod to her New England roots, Catalog #2791 has been named Fenway for the long stretch of callosity on the top of her head that looks like a baseball bat. Her bio reads, “The Boston Red Sox are my favorite team and they play at Fenway Park!” Appropriately, her favorite song is “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, an 8th inning favorite at the ballpark.

“While the main goal of naming right whales is to help researchers more easily identify them, it’s also a really valuable way for people to develop a connection with whales they wouldn’t otherwise come to know,” said Monica Pepe, conservation and education policy manager at Whale & Dolphin Conservation. “These fun bios give the public a glimpse into the world of whale research, and I’m so glad we get to share these treasured whales with everyone.”

For 40 years, the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Research Program has extensively researched and gained a better understanding of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales using the photo identification catalog. Discovering the threats these whales face inspires the team to collaborate with fishermen on new techniques to reduce deadly entanglements in fishing gear, facilitate communication across the shipping industry to reduce vessel strikes, and work with lawmakers locally, nationally, and internationally to lobby for protections for the whales. The estimated population number for this species stands at just over 350 whales.

Another way to help is by sharing this on social media!

Leave a Comment