These snowbirds are two of the 200 volunteers helping spot right whales along the First Coast

Bill Gough and his wife Meredith volunteer with Marineland’s Right Whale Project

MARINELAND, Fla. – Bill Gough and his wife Meredith walk the beach every Monday from January to March in search of right whales.

“We’ve had the great fortune this year of ourselves seeing whales, mothers and calves, which as just been phenomenal, so we’re very very very excited about that,” Bill Gough said.

They have been volunteering with the Marineland Right Whale Project for two years now and consider it a worthwhile experience.

"It doesn’t matter what the weather is, rain or shine, we’re out here. We’ve had some chilly Mondays and today, of course, is a beautiful beautiful day,” Bill Gough said.

They even made some friends along the way.

"We’re snowbirds from Pennsylvania so we’re here for three months, and Rick and Jan are year-round residents. As Meredith said it a great chance to meet people,” he added.

Over 200 hundred volunteers walk beaches on the First Coast every year looking for right whales and on Monday a spotter with the FWC saw a mother and her calf right off Vilano Beach in St. Johns County.

“In this area, the unique feature is that the water depth closer to the beach is deeper so the whales come in closer,” said Jim Hain with the Marineland Right Whale Project.

So far this season there have been nine right whale mothers with calves which surpasses last year’s total of seven calves.

“On any given day there might be 2 whales in 60 miles of coastline. So the antidote to that is to have many eyes on the water and this is where the volunteers come in,” Hain said.

For more information on the Marineland Right Whale Project and how to volunteer, visit

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