Systematics and Taxonomy
What was long treated as a single right whale species is now recognized as three distinct species by both scientists and federal regulatory agencies (Rosenbaum et al. 2000; Gaines et al. 2005; http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/). The North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), which inhabits the Pacific Ocean, especially between 20o and 60o N latitude, is now widely recognized as a species distinct from the North Atlantic right whale. Similarly, the Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) is now recognized as a distinct species occurring in the southern hemisphere betwen around 20o and 60o S latitude.