Environmental Prediction in the Gulf of Maine

Forecast of North Atlantic right whale births

Forecasting births of right whales

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Scientists developed a mathematical model that forecasts the number of North Atlantic right whales that will be born. The model takes into account the food supply and the number of reproductive females in the population. When their primary food—tiny crustaceans called Calanus copepods—are plentiful in the Gulf of Maine, North Atlantic right whales may produce a total of twenty or more calves. When Calanus are scarce, however, no calves may be born. The whales' reproductive success is linked closely to food supply. Because right whales have long periods of gestation and lactation, changes in their birth rate lag changes in food supply by one or two years.

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