Featured Image Credit: Photo provided by Marineland Right Whale Project/Ralph Bundy, under NOAA/NMFS permit No. 20626
By: Sarah Sharkey
After a depressing 2018 season in which no calves were born, this season is offering hope for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population. The sixth calf was spotted on recently by Marineland’s Right Whale Project off the coast of Flagler Beach.
According to the senior scientist and project coordinator for the Right Whale Project, Jim Hain, “We are inching forward.” The calves are cause for hope but six calves may not be enough to turn the tides for the entire population.
The new calf was spotted first by a neighbor of Linda Grissom, a team member of the Right Whale Project. After a call to the hotline, team leader Stephanie York was able to confirm that it was a mother-calf pair. Ralph Bundy, a drone pilot, was able to get a drone into the sky and take pictures of the whales to confirm their identities.
The whales are still in a precarious position. Scientists estimate that there are only 411 whales left. Although new calves are a blessing, the whales still face other threats like ship strikes, ghost gear and more. Typically, these whales live in the frigid waters of Nova Scotia but in the winter the females migrate south to give birth in warmer waters.
It is encouraging to see this boom of whale calves. Hopefully, this trend will continue.
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