Wildlife Conservation Efforts

North Atlantic Right Whales: Threats and Conservation Imperatives


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: North Atlantic Right Whales

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • North Atlantic right whales face a grave threat due to entanglement in fishing gear, contributing to their critically endangered status.
  • Entanglement not only leads to physical harm but also affects reproductive success, exacerbating the species’ decline.

Impact of Entanglement

  • Lethal and Sublethal Effects: Entanglement in fishing gear leads to energy expenditure, reduced feeding efficiency, and physical injuries, ultimately impacting whales’ ability to reproduce and survive. Even minor entanglements have devastating consequences on female right whales.
  • Reproductive Implications: Females experiencing entanglement events, even classified as “minor,” exhibit reduced breeding rates, with potential long-term consequences for population recovery. Poor health and physical condition further impede breeding success.

About Right Whales

  • Right whales are a group of large baleen whales belonging to the family Balaenidae.
  • There are three species of right whales:
  1. North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis),
  2. North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), and
  3. Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis).
  • They are distinguished by their geographic distribution and slight differences in physical characteristics.
  • Right whales inhabit temperate and subpolar waters of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere.
  • They are often found in coastal areas during their feeding and breeding seasons but may migrate over long distances.
  • All three species of right whales are listed as endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

North Atlantic Right Whales


  • It is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
  • Only around 360 individuals remain, with almost 90% having experienced entanglement at least once.



2015: With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments
  2. IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
  3. CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


Practice MCQ:

The North Atlantic Right Whales were recently seen in news for a peculiar behaviour. Identify the correct statement about the North Atlantic Right Whales:

  1. Entanglement in fishing net has led to permanent loss of breeding capability.
  2. Extinct due to commercial hunting.
  3. Generates large amounts of Aspergis, an aromatic substance.
  4. In-situ breeding was successful.

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