Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted off Georgia Coast

Animals
A North Atlantic right whale was spotted with her calf in a first of the season event. NOAA permit # 20556-01 / Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Good news whale lovers!


The first critically endangered North Atlantic right whale calf of the season has been spotted off the coast of Georgia, a Daytona Beach News-Journal story published by USA Today reported Wednesday.

The mother and her calf were first spotted by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's aerial survey teams on Monday, Dec. 16, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokeswoman Allison Garrett told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

"The mother is a known animal to biologists and this is believed to be her first calf!" the aquarium tweeted.

The sighting of North Atlantic right whale calves is such a big deal because they are an extremely endangered species of whale. There are currently only 409 left, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium estimates, and that number has fallen from more than 450 in 2016.

"North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble," NOAA Fisheries right whale biologist Barb Zoodsma said in a press release. "We have lost 30 right whales in U.S. and Canadian waters since 2017. The number of right whale deaths is unsustainable for a population of a little more than 400 animals, particularly because we estimate that there are only about 100 breeding females who are producing fewer calves each year."

Every winter, the whales migrate more than 1,000 miles down the East Coast of North America from Canada and New England to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The waters off the Southern U.S. are the only place where they are known to calve.

"These southern waters are where right whales give birth and nurse their young. This is a vulnerable phase for right whales, making it extremely important for people to be aware of the whales' movement and migratory patterns," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife biologist Tom Pitchford told NOAA.

In 2017-2018, not a single right whale birth was recorded, according to The Associated Press. The situation improved somewhat in 2018-2019, when seven births were recorded. But this couldn't make up for the fact that 10 whales were discovered dead in 2019, three after being struck by ships and one after getting tangled in fishing equipment. Many of the dead whales were breeding females, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

The latest calf was spotted off Sapelo Island, which is around 50 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, The Associated Press reported. The mother was identified as #3560 in the New England Aquarium Right Whale catalog, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. She was born in 2005.

Right whales can grow to be more than 50 feet long and weigh 70 tons. They are most threatened by collisions with ships, being caught in fishing gear and changes to their feeding areas as oceans warm because of the climate crisis.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Just over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."

Read More Show Less
Dicamba is having a devastating impact in Arkansas and neighboring states. A farmer in Mississippi County, Arkansas looks at rows of soybean plants affected by dicamba. The Washington Post / Getty Images

Documents unearthed in a lawsuit brought by a Missouri farmer who claimed that Monsanto and German chemical maker BASF's dicamba herbicide ruined his peach orchard revealed that the two companies knew their new agricultural seed and chemical system would likely damage many U.S. farms, according to documents seen by The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and other leaders speak to the press on March 28, 2020 in Seattle. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Washington State has seen a slowdown in the infection rate of the novel coronavirus, for now, suggesting that early containment strategies have been effective, according to the Seattle NBC News affiliate.

Read More Show Less
A bushfire burns outside the Perth Cricket Stadium in Perth, Australia on Dec. 13, 2019. PETER PARKS / AFP via Getty Images

By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley

2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.

Read More Show Less

By Fino Menezes

Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.

Read More Show Less