As noted above, right whales in the eastern North Pacific are considered to be separate from those in the west on the basis of distinct catch and recovery histories (Brownell et al. 2001, IWC 2001). The right whale population throughout the North Pacific is only a small fraction of what it was prior to 19th century whaling. A preliminary estimate of 26,500-37,000 animals taken (including struck and lost) throughout the entire North Pacific during the period 1839-1909 was given by Scarff (2001), of which 21,000-30,000 were taken during 1840-49 alone.
In the eastern North Pacific between 1941 and 1964, there were 598 sightings of right whales; in contrast, in the period 1965-1999 there was a total of only 82 sightings in this region (Brownell et al. 2001). The dramatic decrease was due to illegal Soviet catches of 372 whales in the Bering Sea and
The few animals observed in the eastern North Pacific today are often alone and are scattered in their distribution. The only exception is an area of the southeastern Bering Sea where small groups of right whales have been seen in several successive years (LeDuc et al. 2001); in 2004, a recorded group of at least 17 individuals represented the largest sighting since the Soviet catches of the 1960s (Wade et al. 2006). No quantitative estimate of abundance is available, but the paucity of sightings suggests that right whales in the eastern North Pacific number only in the tens (Brownell et al. 2001). Furthermore, the reproductive rate appears to be low: there have been only three records of calves since directed survey effort began in 1998 (Waite et al. 2003, Wade et al. 2006).
No one has provided updates yet.