JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Over the last decade, the population of right whales has been steadily declining.
There are 400 right whales left, and over the weekend, a whale was spotted a few miles from the Mayport Inlet. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the whale spotted is believed to be Harmonia, a 19-year-old and potential mother this season.
From Nov. 15 through April 15, the whales migrate south for calving season and can be spotted off the Georgia and Florida coasts.
The endangered species has only given birth to 12 calves over the last three years, which makes each birth extremely important. The mothers usually fast while nursing and raising the calves, so it is important that they save as much energy as possible.
Researchers appreciate the public’s involvement with keeping these whales safe but ask people to give the animals their space during this time.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the survival of this species depends on no more than one whale death per year. In the last three years, at least 30 right whales have died.
The whales don’t live long enough to die of old age because they are often killed by collisions with boats and entanglement in fishing gear.
It’s important to remember that you need to keep a safe distance from the whales -- 500 yards to be exact.
And if you do see a right whale, it’s important to report the sighting. You can call 877-942-5343.