A Whale of a Tale

The North Atlantic right whale is among the world’s rarest and most endangered whale species. For centuries, they were hunted for their oil, meat and baleen (whalebone), to the point where there are now believed to be fewer than 500 in existence.

The Bay of Fundy is a natural habitat for the North American right whale due to the area’s strong tidal currents, which concentrate large quantities of the tiny crustaceans on which the whales feed. Until a decade ago, however, the whale population in the Bay of Fundy was in sharp decline as a result of collisions with large ships.

Determined to lessen the impact on whales and reduce the likelihood of ship strikes, managers at Irving Oil Limited partnered with the New England Aquarium and Dalhousie University on a research project that recommended changes to the shipping lanes in the area, a plan that was adopted by the International Marine Organization. The relocation of the shipping lanes in 2003 – the first time shipping lanes had ever been altered to protect an endangered species – reduced the danger of ship collisions with whales by 90 percent, and since then there have been no known ship strikes in the Bay of Fundy. Irving Oil’s commitment to science-based conservation efforts continues through its ongoing involvement in, and financial support for, whale research, conservation and education efforts.

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