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Blue Whale

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest animal known to have ever lived on Earth. It is a difficult whale to study because of its low numbers and its preference for deep, offshore waters. Within Balaenoptera musculus, authorities recognize between three and five subspecies. Blue whales live in oceans throughout the world, including off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada. Although blue whale sightings are rare, experts believe that about 250 mature individuals live off each coast.

Editorial

Endangered Arctic Animals

The list of endangered animals in Canada is long:

456 as of 2013, over 40 per cent of which face imminent extinction.

While these animals make their home in every province and territory, some of the reasons for their decline — including climate change and habitat destruction — are easiest to observe in the Arctic. For example, scientists note that temperatures near the North Pole are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, meaning sea ice — a crucial competent to Arctic ecosystems — is rapidly disappearing. Meanwhile, the Inuit are observing changes in animal migration patterns and population numbers, both of which affect their traditional hunting practices.

This exhibit highlights six of the animals struggling to adapt to changes in the Arctic: the polar bear, caribou, narwhal, bowhead whale, beluga and walrus. Images by internationally-renowned photographer Paul Nicklen introduce each of the animals, while excerpts from The Canadian Encyclopedia provide information on each species’ specific challenges. To complete the series, Yellowknife-based journalist Ashleigh Gaul pays tribute to the walrus hunt, making the connection between the loss of animal habitat and the loss of Inuit culture.

Article

Grey Whale

The grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is a baleen whale found in the North Pacific Ocean. It is known for its very long migrations and seafloor feeding. Due to its habit of staying near the shore and curiosity around small ships, it is a favourite among whale watchers. Researchers generally group grey whales into three populations: the Western Pacific population, the Northern Pacific migratory population, and the Pacific Coast Feeding Group (PCFG). While all three populations migrate through waters on Canada’s west coast, the most well-known residents in Canadian waters are from the PCFG. Many of these individuals live off the coast of British Columbia year-round.

Article

Red Bay Archaeological Site

Red Bay, located on the north shore of the Strait of Belle Isle, Labrador, is an archaeological reference for the 16th-century transatlantic fishery, particularly for Basque whaling activities. After research into Spanish documents and archaeological finds on Saddle Island and under water, Red Bay was designated a historical site in 1978-79. In 2013, the whaling station at Red Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Article

Bowhead Whale

The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a large baleen whale living in Arctic waters. Two populations are found in Canada: the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population and the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population. During the summer, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population is found in the waters of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, while the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population is found in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Hudson Strait, Foxe Basin, northwest Hudson Bay and the channels and fjords of the Arctic Archipelago. Commercial whaling began in the 1500s and ended around 1915. Both populations of bowhead whale were severely reduced by this industry. While their numbers have increased, other challenges, such as climate change and oil and gas development, pose threats to bowhead whales.

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Red Bay

Red Bay, NL, incorporated as a town in 1997, population 169 (2016 census), 194 (2011 census). The town of Red Bay is located on the Strait of Belle Isle, off Labrador’s south coast. Named for its prominent red cliffs, it was one of two major Basque whaling stations established in the 1540s. After research into Spanish documents and archaeological finds on Saddle Island and under water, Red Bay was designated a historical site in 1978-79 (see Red Bay Archaeological Site). In 2013, the whaling station at Red Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Northern Bottlenose Whale

The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a toothed whale found in the northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean. In Canadian waters, there are two populations: one off the coast of Nova Scotia, known as the Scotian shelf population, and the other off the coast of Labrador, known as the Baffin-Labrador population. The Scotian shelf population is endangered while the Baffin-Labrador population is considered “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The northern bottlenose whale is the largest beaked whale in the North Atlantic. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)

Article

Right Whale

Right whales are a baleen whale found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. There are three species: the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) and southern right whale (Eubalaena australis). In Canadian waters, the North Pacific right whale is rarely sighted, but was historically found along British Columbia’s coast. The North Atlantic right whale is found along the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Both the North Pacific and North Atlantic right whale are listed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)