New sighting brings total of right whale calves spotted to 15

A right whale and calf were sighted off North Carolina on Wednesday. (Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, taken under NOAA permit 20556-01)

A new sighting of a right whale calf brings the total spotted this season to 15, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday.

The FWC said a new right whale mother and her calf were seen Wednesday off the coast of North Carolina. According to the FWC, the calf is just a few days old.

The 14th sighting was off of Cumberland Island last month.

Right whale calving season spans the months of November through April.

“Mothers and calves occur in coastal waters and are known to spend a lot of time resting and nursing at or near the surface of the water where vessel strikes can occur. Collisions between boats as small as 30 feet in length can be lethal, especially to calves, and dangerous for boaters. Despite their enormous size, right whales maintain a low profile and are often difficult to spot,” the FWC said in a Facebook post. “Boaters are urged to slow down, keep a sharp lookout, and not to approach or pursue right whales if they are spotted.”

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North Atlantic right whales are an endangered species, and there are fewer than 350 left on Earth, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. The FWC says female right whales and their calves are critical to population recovery.

Report a right whale sighting to the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343) or the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.