Unfortunately, these creatures now face a new, more modern threat — a proposal to use seismic airguns off the U.S. Atlantic coast to search for oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor. Right whales have been in trouble for centuries. Their numbers plummeted in the 1700s due to overexploitation by the whaling industry, however the Southern right whale has slowly repopulated its numbers. The North Pacific and North Atlantic species, however, remain critically endangered. In fact, estimates suggest that only approximately 500 North Atlantic right whale individuals left in the world.