Just as many children love learning about dinosaurs, they also love to learn about whales.
Although there are many different types of whales, the information here focuses on the North Atlantic Right Whale.
Right whales were so named because early whalers considered them the "right" whale to hunt. In the early centuries of shore-based whaling, right whales were virtually the only large whales the whalers were able to catch for three reasons:
- The right whales were often found very close to shore where they could be spotted by lookouts on the beach.
- They were relatively slow swimmers so the whalers could catch up to them in their whaleboats.
- Compared to other species of whale, right whales killed by harpoons were more likely to float, and thus could be retrieved by the whalers and towed back to shore.
Tale of a Whale, from Smithsonian Education, has great information for teaching and learning about the North Atlantic Right Whale. Using the lessons provided, students experience work that is similar to that of real whale researchers by identifying an individual whale according to patterns of callosities and also identifying migration patterns. There also is a link to the New England Aquarium website where students can learn more about whale research and play an interactive whale identification game.
For background information and more photos, check out
- Right Whales (from National Geographic)
- Right Whale Web
- American Cetacean Society
- North Atlantic Right Whales (from NOAA's Fisheries Office of Protected Resources)