Featured Image Credit: USA Today
By Sarah Sharkey
A recent sighting off the west coast of Florida has biologists worried about a group of North Atlantic right whales. The sightings started in January until as recently as this past weekend in Cedar Key.
This is a rare occurrence that has not happened since 2006 according to Barb Zoodsma. Zoosdma is a biologist who specializes in right whales at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Although North Atlantic right whales do travel south from their home in chilly northern waters off the coast of Canada and New England every year to birth their calves in warm waters, they almost never leave the Atlantic Ocean.
The fact that these animals are in the Gulf of Mexico does not bode well for them. These huge whales need the cold waters of the North Atlantic to maintain a normal body temperature. As the temperatures in the relatively warm Gulf continue to rise over the next couple of months, it may be difficult for these whales to remain comfortable.
Hopefully, they will soon head to the coast of Florida and north towards cooler waters. There are so few of these whales left in the world (current estimate is 458) that the population can hardly afford a few whales being lost in the Gulf. The whales are already facing increasing boat strikes, more entanglements and the females are producing fewer calves.
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