A special Mother’s Day wish for North Atlantic right whales - Oceana Canada
Home / Blog / A special Mother’s Day wish for North Atlantic right whales

May 8, 2020

A special Mother’s Day wish for North Atlantic right whales

Estimated reading time: 0 minutes

A baby North Atlantic right whale surfaces.


Just like humans, whales need their mothers. And what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to highlight the incredible North Atlantic right whale moms that are helping to keep their endangered species alive.

A mother whale’s connection to her calf doesn’t end after birth. Like many marine mammals she has a close connection with her young for years. Moms nurse for the calf’s first year or two and will stay close until they reach sexual maturity at around age 10. Moms will even whisper to their babies, significantly reducing the loud noises they usually make to ensure they don’t attract predators such as sharks and orcas. 

Historically, right whale mothers lived until they were at least 70 years old and gave birth every three to four years but due to new threats they face today, scientists estimate a female whale’s life expectancy is only 27 to 28 years and she will only give birth every eight years. The calves that these moms bring into the world and care for are the population’s future.

North Atlantic right whales are one of the largest species on Earth and one of the most endangered whales in the world with only around 400 remaining. Their population is mostly threatened by entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with ships. 

These mother whales are essential to the survival of their babies and the entire species. There are only around 100 breeding age females left in the population, so every birth is something to celebrate. Give a Mother’s Day gift to these whales, add your voice and advocate for their protection here >>

The mothers you are helping to protect all have incredible stories. This season, there were 10 baby whales added to the population, meet some of these mothers and the calves they brought into the world below.


Calvin (Catalog #2223) is a 28-year-old North Atlantic right whale. She is pictured here with her fourth calf.


Echo (Catalog #2642) is seen with her third calf. She is 24 years old and had her last baby 10 years ago.


Arrow (Catalog #3290) is pictured with her second calf. She is 18 years old and last gave birth in 2009.


Derecha (Catalog #2360) is spotted here with her fourth calf. But this image is different than the rest. If you look closely, you can see her calf has a severe injury on its lip. The injuries are consistent with a ship strike – two s-shaped wounds left by the propeller of a vessel.

When this image was taken, the baby was just days old and the wounds were likely hours old. Not even a week into its life and human activities had already left this baby likely unable to nurse and feed properly. The baby hasn’t been seen in weeks and experts fear the worst.

This Mother’s Day, take a stand for North Atlantic right whales like Derecha. Help ensure that no mother has to suffer the loss of her calf again because of human caused threats like ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear. 

Add your voice to Oceana’s petition calling on the Canadian and U.S. governments to protect right whales today.