What makes the right whale "right"?

The right whale got its name because it was the "right" whale to hunt—it was slow moving and floated after being killed

Image of 2 Right Whales

This mother and calf are part of the western population of North Atlantic right whales.

The right whale is an endangered species of whale off the coast of the United States. It was the first whale hunted by American whalers, and it was so depleted that it has not recovered despite being protected for over 50 years.

Adult right whales are generally between 45 and 55 feet in length and can weigh up to 70 tons. Females right whales are larger than males. Like many whales, right whales feed on schools of small, shrimp-like crustaceans. They may also eat small fish near the ocean floor.

North Atlantic right whales inhabit the Atlantic Ocean, particularly between 20° and 60° latitude. These whales, and many other species, are listed as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear are the most common human causes of serious injury and mortality of western North Atlantic right whales today. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has taken steps to reduce the threat of ship collisions and gear entanglement.