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Right Whales' Decline

Researchers plan to conduct a genetic analysis to better understand why the population size of North American right whales is in decline, CBC reports.

Right whales, which can be found off the coasts of Canada and the US, are endangered and continue to experience a decrease in population size despite conservation efforts and have an estimated population size of 350 individuals, according to CBC.

Timothy Frasier from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, tells it that he and his colleagues plan to photograph right whales to document their age, size, and skin health as well as to collect samples for genetic analysis to search for any factors that may be affecting the whales' ability to breed. He notes that inbreeding — CBC adds that there are fewer than 100 breeding female right whales left — is suspected to be a factor in their population decline.

"The ultimate goal is to make right whale conservation more effective and more efficient," Frasier tells CBC. "By the end of this project, whatever our results are, they will have the most approximate impact on the government policy and procedures in both countries."

The study, CBC notes, is funded by Genome Atlantic and the New England Aquarium in Boston.