At least 4 right calves, mothers spotted along the coast of Ga./SC
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – It’s an exciting time in our coastal waters – four black calves have been spotted and the season has only just begun.
There are less than 400 right whales left on this planet and only about 100 breeding females. So Four New Whales is definitely something they’re cautiously optimistic about.
Meet Nauset, a calf spotted on December 28, 12 nautical miles off the island of Sapelo. She is one of four mother / calf sets spotted and 10 other adult females swim along the Florida / Georgia and South Carolina coasts.
“This is the most we’ve seen since 2013,” said Clay George, senior wildlife biologist at GADNR.
George says the last two calving seasons have been disastrous.
“In 2018, we did not see a single black calf for the first time since surveys began in the 1980s. The number of calves we saw in the 2010s was very, very low; and now that we are entering the 2020s, hopefully that will change.
“Every right whale that we can have this season is fantastic, given their status,” said Jessica Powell, NOAA Fisheries marine mammal biologist.
Powell knows mother whales and will get to know these new whales through facial recognition.
“These markings on their face and around their head are quite distinctive and could be considered a fingerprint for identification,” said Powell.
Nauset is 27 years old and her fourth calf. This is a screenshot of a NOAA plane looking at her from above near Cumberland Island on Wednesday. According to George, a partnership is invaluable.
“Really there is a lot to do this calving season. We’ve lost 20 percent of the entire species in just ten years, and if they continue in that direction, they could really be at risk of extinction in just a few decades. What we need to do is hope that the right whales have more calves, but we also need to do our part as humans and find ways to reduce our impacts, ”said George.
If you are lucky enough to spot one of these whales in the wild, what a treat! But NOAA and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources want you to do two things: call 877-WHALE-HELP, then go.
They need to track these whales from a safe distance. Mother and calf need to bond in private for as long as possible. So while it can be exciting, you need to do your due diligence and leave them alone.
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