Festival works to save right whales from extinction

Festival held at Jacksonville Beach Seawalk Pavilion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A festival was held Saturday at the Seawalk Pavilion to help save right whales from extinction through education.

The Right Whale Festival works to help save the whales that come to the waters off the coast of Northeast Florida to give birth and care for their young.

North Atlantic right whales are an endangered species of whale that tend to avoid open waters and stay close to peninsulas and bays on continental shelves for shelter and an abundance of their preferred foods.

Marine science and environmental teacher at Fletcher High School, Kevin Brown, sees every opportunity as a chance to learn.

“Our job is to educate the next generation. So through things like the Right Whale Festival and beach cleanups, we can create stewards for the next generation and the next,” Brown said. “It also provides a huge public education for those that aren’t in a classroom.”

With around 500 right whales left, Annie Beaman, with Our Children’s Earth Foundation, agrees with Brown and says teaching kids about marine life is key.

“They’re going to have an impact for a long time,” Beaman said. “This is obviously an intergenerational issue. And, I feel like children impact their parents almost as much as parents impact their children. Kids tend to get these issues. They know that it’s important to have wildlife in the world, that fish are great.”

Our Children’s Earth Foundation is an advocacy group focused on eradicating pollution and maintaining clean water, which tied in with the first part of the day.

“All the plastics and fishing gear that we put into the ocean obstructs the whales and other marine species,” Brown said. “So the cleanup is to, once again, bring awareness to try to keep the plastics and trash out of the beach to help marine organisms.”

Festival organizers said fisherman named the mammal the “right whale to kill” because they were easy to hunt. With more events like this, the hope is to change the thought to “right whale to save.”