Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2067 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
There are three species of whales known as "right whales." The North Atlantic Right Whale, Eubalaena glacialis, can be found anywhere in the north Atlantic and primarily along the eastern seaboard, using coastal Georgia as a calving ground. It is Georgia's state marine mammal. The Southern Right Whale, Eubalaena australis, is found in the southern hemisphere. The North Pacific Right Whale, Eubalaena japonica can be found in the Bering Sea. Right whales are mysticetes, or baleen whales. Other mysticetes include humpback, gray and bowhead whales.
Right whales received their name from whalers who began calling them "right whales" because they were the right whales to kill -- easy to harpoon and yielding large amounts of valuable oil for fuel and soap as well as baleen for umbrellas and corsets. Measuring 45- to 55-feet-long, adults can weigh nearly 70 tons.
North Atlantic Right Whales are now one of the rarest of all the great whales. The current population is estimated to be around 400 individuals. Right whales were listed as endangered in 1970 and are protected by disturbance and injury by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Georgia Endangered Wildlife Act of 1973.