Right whales undergo dramatic growth spurts during their first few years of life and approach their maximum size around age 10. Seeing so many adult whales the size of juveniles “was shocking,” Dr. Stewart said. Whales who don’t drown or starve right away will often drag gear for several years. “Smaller right whales are less resilient to climate change as they do not have the nutritional buffer they need to adapt during lean food years,” said Amy Knowlton, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium and co-author of the study. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that smaller whales are more likely to die as a result of entanglement than larger ones.