The North Atlantic Right Whale: Our Urban Leviathan

MON, NOV 1, 2010 (19:12)

The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is probably our closest cetacean neighbor. There are only about 350 of them in total, and they live precariously near to shore, along the Eastern seaboard, in a horrendously busy commercial shipping corridor that stretches from Nova Scotia to Florida.

Scott Kraus, the vice president for research at Boston’s New England Aquarium, and the head of its right whale research project, has studied these whales for decades, and the aquarium’s efforts on their behalf have led to dramatic improvements in right whale habitat.

But they remain nonetheless threatened - primarily by us humans. ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh meets with Kraus at the New England Aquarium, to discuss his latest book, which he co-edited with his colleague Rosalind Rolland, called The Urban Whale.

+ BIO: Scott Kraus

Scott Kraus is Vice President of Research at the New England Aquarium, where he has conducted a wide range of research on North Atlantic Right Whale biology and conservation since 1980. The photocatalog of individual right whales that he created has been the cornerstone of many current studies.

+ BIO: Jenny Attiyeh

My name is Jenny Attiyeh, and I began my career in 1987 in London as a freelance reporter on the arts for the BBC World Service Radio. I remember my first interview for “Meridian”, as the program I worked for was called. It was with Placido Domingo, and I’ve never been so nervous since.

After my work permit ran out, I returned to Los Angeles, my home city, and continued as an arts reporter for KCRW, an NPR station in Santa Monica. While there, I reported and produced an award-winning documentary on Japanese-American internment during World War II. Shortly after, I was accepted to a National Public Radio residency, which brought me to Washington, D.C. and to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston to report stories for NPR’s Performance Today. I later attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

After that, I remained in New York City for 9 years, during which time I worked primarily as a reporter on television and radio. I hosted and produced a weekly arts and culture segment for WNYC TV, a PBS station, until it went out of business (thanks to then Mayor Giuliani, who sold the station). Before the lights went out, I managed to produce a mini-documentary on the making of a Philip Glass opera, “Les Enfants Terribles.”

I worked next as a correspondent for a nationally televised PBS program called “Freedom Speaks” which focused on the media, until it too was taken off the air. (I detect a pattern here…) In between gigs, I also worked as a reporter for WBAI radio, a Pacifica station, and WNYC radio, an NPR station, covering local politics and the arts. I then moved to Maine, where I lived by the harbor in Kittery, and worked as a reporter for New Hampshire Public Television. There, I covered the ‘99/2000 New Hampshire presidential primary season, and interviewed the major presidential candidates. I also participated as a panelist in nationally televised presidential debates, hosted by Peter Jennings and Tim Russert.

Following the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary season, I moved to Boston, where I did freelance writing on academics, the 2004 presidential campaign and the single life, among other subjects. From this base, in early 2005, I launched ThoughtCast.

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