Right whales were given their name because they were the “right whale” to hunt. For perhaps the same reason, they’re also one of the best whales for making puns.
But puns, unlike hunting, didn’t nearly drive them to extinction. Thankfully, they’re now starting to show signs of recovery, with increasing numbers of Southern Right Whales returning to Australian and New Zealand waters.
Professor Rob Harcourt, who we spoke to recently on Lost in Science, has been tracking these remnant populations that are returning from their breeding waters in the sub-Antarctic. His DNA research has shown that there are in fact genetically distinct populations in New Zealand, Western Australia and off the east coast.