Formerly Listen Edition

Right whales

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0


Life Science

Story Length: 5:04
Science Middle School

Right Whales

Biologists studying right whales face the challenge of studying rare, extremely large organisms that spend the majority of their time underwater. This public radio story explores some of the challenges and risks of studying right whales and explores the reasons that scientists are willing to work so hard to study them. In addition, the story discusses an experiment designed to learn how male and female right whales find each other during mating season.

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This audio is part of the One Species at a Time series hosted by Ari Daniel and produced by Atlantic Public Media and the Encyclopedia of Life, with the support from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Essential Question

What are some potential challenges and risks biologists experience when studying North Atlantic Right Whales? How do right whales find each other when it is time to mate? What can be done to conserve this endangered species?


Students will know and be able to…

  • discuss difficulties, challenges, risks, and rewards of studying right whales
  • describe how males and females find each other during mating season
  • discuss reasons that right whales are endangered and discuss attempts to conserve this species
  • identify the sex and reproductive status of right whales based on fecal hormone content by producing and interpreting graphical data