Celebrating the North Atlantic Right Whale

The New Bedford Whaling Museum examines the plight of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and also celebrates this magnificent animal in a free public program that features a movie excerpt and a talk by Peter C. Stone on AHA Night, October 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater.

 

The program begins with a 20-minute excerpt of the film, “Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship,” featuring historic collaborative efforts to protect right whales in Massachusetts Bay.

In 2009, armed with more than 25 years of scientific data, a coalition of industry, regulatory and research representatives moved the shipping lane in Boston Harbor. This decreased the chance of ship strike on whales by 81%.

This Green Fire Productions film includes video footage, interviews, and state-of-the-art graphics – highlighting the work of individuals who are helping us better understand the right whale and the need to minimize manmade negative impacts on its chances for survival.

Following the film, an illustrated talk by author, educator and artist, Peter C. Stone, explores the evolutionary wisdom and interconnectedness of endangered creatures in a presentation titled “Waltzes with Giants: The Twilight Journey of the North Atlantic Right Whale.” His new book of the same title will be available at no cost to attendees while supplies last. The artist will be available to sign copies of his book after the talk in the Jacobs Family Gallery.

Mystical and provocative, “Waltzes” is inspired by a real North Atlantic right whale and her increasingly perilous migrations from Atlantic Canada to her calving grounds off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. In the spirit of marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson’s sea trilogy, the story evokes the wonder, the sorrow, and the conflicts associated with this member of the suborder Mysticetes (baleen whales). Blending science and art with a literary voice, Stone takes us beneath the waves to reveal how we have historically decimated many species of whales and other fisheries for material gain, even though they are an integral part of the ecosystems upon which we depend.

Many of the North Atlantic right whales that have spent their summer in Canadian and northern New England waters migrate south through the Gulf of Maine and around Cape Cod, to follow the Atlantic coast towards the waters of Georgia and Florida. Others will explore outer regions of the North Atlantic, some venturing farther than others.  Most, if not all, will travel within 50 miles of the coast and all of the human-created hazards that such a trip entails. Nearly 75% of these animals bear scars of entanglement or ship strike.

The good news for this highly endangered species is that there are dedicated individuals paying attention to their movements. Dozens of researchers follow the whales using both simple and high-tech equipment, generating a clearer picture of their habits. In so doing we learn how to help these animals. Sometimes this means knowing how to avoid them. Artists and writers like Peter Stone also absorb the science and are inspired to create moving ways to communicate the challenges these creatures cannot overcome without wide-reaching human intervention.

Museum galleries are open on AHA at a discount – buy one admission, get one free.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world’s most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city’s historic downtown. For events: www.whalingmuseum.org.

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