- Not to be confused with the character from the Fallout 3 video game.
Dr. Moira Brown is a Canadian-born North Atlantic right whale researcher and senior scientist instrumental in spearheading the initiative to get the Government of Canada, shipping industry and scientists to address ship strikes and North Atlantic right whale mortality in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. After a five-year effort, the year 2003 marked the first time in the history of the International Maritime Organization that shipping lanes were amended to avoid an endangered marine species. 
About 25 years ago, before her quest to save the North Atlantic right whale began, Moira Brown taught Physical Education Class in schools across the West Island District of Montreal. After four years of teaching, Moira decided to return to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, to study renewable resources, which resulted in her acquiring a Bachelor of Science Degree.
In 1985, after working as a research assistant for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) on a project about the history of whaling, Moira started to work as a volunteer at the New England Aquarium, studying North Atlantic right whales in the Bay of Fundy, Canada.
After working with and studying these whales for ten years, Moira made the decision to return to university yet again: This time, she was in pursuit of a Doctorate Degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Moira Brown has been researching right whale population biology and demographic studies in Canadian waters since 1985 and in Cape Cod Bay since 1997. Her studies on right whale genetics commenced in 1988. She focuses her marine conservation efforts on diminishing the human-related threats to the right whale population in Canadian waters. As a result, she, along with many other researchers under the direction of Dr. Scott Kraus (Vice President for Research at the New England Aquarium), has contributed to one of the most comprehensive databases of individual whales: The Photo Identification Catalogue which was originally created by Dr. Kraus in 1980 and now considered to be the best profile of any endangered species yet. 
Photo Identification Catalogue
Photo identification is a non-invasive technique developed in the 1970s for South Atlantic whales on which most modern whale studies are based. Identical to humans, each right whale has physical features that make it unique and distinguishable from the rest. Photo identification is a process that involves photographing right whales, recording their natural markings and entering their information into a computer database for future retrieval.
At the New England Aquarium, the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalogue contains extensive information related to over 30,000 whale sightings of over 500 individual whales since 1935—the most compared to any other marine species. Using this information, scientists and researchers are able to estimate population numbers: in 2007, the right whale population was estimated to be at 400 whales.
Using this information, researchers are able to determine when and where an individual whale has travelled throughout their lifetime, and monitor whale population demographics, reproductive efforts, mortality, behavior, migration patterns and occurrence rates of human-caused scarring. Results gathered from this research can then be used to discover species-wide problems and implement recovery strategies, such as the Bay of Fundy Traffic Separation Scheme, enforced in 2003.
Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre
In addition to the Photo Identification Catalogue, the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre in Canada has introduced high-resolution genetic profiling for North Atlantic right whale study. In Canada, right whale genetics can be divided into two categories: historical and contemporary analysis.
Of all the large whales, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered. To investigate the reason why the right whale population has so drastically declined in numbers, Dr. Brown has worked as a member of a team of researchers who worked to solve this mystery. A popular belief is that Basque whaling in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is responsible for the demise:
At Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1978, the most important whaling centres of the Strait of Belle Isle (Gulf of St. Lawrence) was discovered. Whale bones were identified in the vicinity of a Basque galleon that sunk in 1565. Researchers from Parks Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature conducted analyses on the morphology and genetics of 21 humeruses, a bone contained in the pectoral fin of the whale.
However, after examining the North Atlantic whale bone DNA, scientists arrived at the conclusion: the Basques primarily hunted bowhead whales, not right whales. Therefore, right whales, in general, started off with a smaller population size to begin with.
For contemporary purposes, Moira extracts North Atlantic right whale bone DNA by using a Crossbow and biopsy tip to collect whale skin samples. She, in collaboration with a team of geneticists at Trent University under the leadership of Dr. Bradley White, analyzes and records these samples to create a right whale "family tree". The data collected from this research will provide key information regarding right whale reproductive biology and the factors that contribute to their reproductive success.
Moira Brown worked at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, for three years and then became Director at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for seven years dedicating her time to the conservation of marine mammals and their ecosystem.
She is Co-Chair of the North Atlantic Right Whale Recovery-Implementation Team, is currently the senior scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute and has been the senior scientist at the New England Aquarium's Edgerton Research Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, since 2004.
By implementing one of the most important marine mammal protection measures in Canada, Dr. Brown has been recognized with the following awards:
- Gulf of Maine Visionary Award (2002)
- Canadian Environment Award (2003)
- International Fund for Animal Welfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2006)
- Kraus, S.D. & Rolland, R. (eds.) (2007). The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02327-7