One little right whale calf couldn’t wait until the official start date of the North Atlantic right whale calving season to make an appearance!
Thanks to the keen eyes of JD and Angie Grafton who were sailing off the coast of South Carolina, the first North Atlantic right whale mother and calf of the season were spotted on November 10th, five days earlier than the official calving season start date.
JD posted the incredible story on Facebook, including the video they took of the sighting. At around the 6 second mark, you can see both mom and baby right whale.
*Federal law requires vessels, paddle boarders and aircraft, to stay at least 500 yards (five football fields) away from right whales. Vessels who find themselves within 500 yards are required to immediately depart from the area at a slow, safe speed in a direction away from the whale."
This mom and calf haven’t yet been spotted again and the mom has not yet been identified. If we learn who she is or if any pictures become available, we will be sure to share them. Regardless of who this mystery mom is, we couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off the calving season!
In partnership with NOAA, WDC connects with recreational boaters about best practices for operating their boats around whales through our See A Spout program.
This program, led by WDC’s Monica Pepe, helps boaters identify and report sightings of right whales, as well as entangled or injured whales.
“We are grateful to the passing sailboat for reporting and documenting this right whale sighting,” Pepe says. “Reporting right whales helps researchers learn about these critically endangered whales, keeps whales and boaters safe, and is a great way for the public to get involved in whale conservation”
WDC and our partners recently won a court decision which requires the US National Marine Fisheries Service to take action on the groups’ petition to enhance seasonal speed limits for vessels in right whale habitats. Vessel strikes are one of the two most significant human threats faced by North Atlantic right whales. Mothers and calves are particularly vulnerable to strikes as they spend more time at, or near, the surface.
For more information on safe boating around whales, visit https://seeaspout.org/