A tale of two whales: putting physiological tools to work for North Atlantic and southern right whales

Kathleen E. Hunt, Alejandro Fernández Ajó, Carley Lowe, Elizabeth A. Burgess, C. Loren Buck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Conservation physiology tools can be difficult to employ in the wild. Here we discuss developments in conservation physiology research of large whales, a taxonomic group that is famously difficult to study with traditional tools. We focus on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) and southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), two closely related species that present similar logistical challenges for research, yet differ in population status and conservation pressures. Research has advanced via a suite of creative approaches including photo-identification, visual health assessment, remote methods of assessing body condition, and endocrine research on non-plasma sample types such as faeces, respiratory vapour, and baleen. These efforts have illuminated conservation-relevant physiological questions for both species, such as discrimination of acute from chronic stress, identification of likely causes of mortality, and monitoring causes and consequences of changes in body condition and reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConservation Physiology
Subtitle of host publicationApplications for Wildlife Conservation and Management
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780198843610
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Balaenidae
  • Baleen
  • Body condition
  • Cetacea
  • Faeces
  • Photo-identification
  • Photogrammetry
  • Respiratory vapour
  • Ultrasound
  • Visual health assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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