12th right whale calf spotted this season

19-year-old right whale & her 1st calf were sighted Sunday off Amelia Island

A 19-year-old right whale known as Infinity and her first calf were sighted Sunday off Amelia Island. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Another right whale calf was spotted this year with its mother off the coast of Northeast Florida.

The mother, 19-year-old Infinity, and her first calf were sighted Sunday off Amelia Island, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Southeast.

So far, there have been 12 calves sighted this right whale season, NOAA said.

Last week, two other right whale calves and their mothers were also spotted off Amelia Island.

NOAA said 13-year-old Bocce and her second calf, as well as a 20-year-old right whale and her third calf, were seen Wednesday.

According to NOAA, the North Atlantic right whale calving season begins in mid-November and runs through mid-April.

Right whales are an endangered species that usually migrate south along the Georgia and Florida coastline to give birth to their calves. Every fall, right whales can travel up to 1,000 miles from their feeding grounds up north to the shallow calving waters down south. They stay there through the winter months to give birth.

In the 2020 calving season, there were 10 calves born, which was up from seven in the 2019 season. Despite the increase in calves, the species is still endangered. Right whales have been listed under the endangered species list since 1970.

These whales like to swim close to shore and tend to stay by the surface, making them susceptible to being struck by vessels and caught up in fishing nets. To try and help avoid vessel strikes, there are speed restricted zones to slow down and keep an eye for the whales. These zones can be seasonally monitored when the whales migrate.

If you’re along the coast and see a right whale and it’s a calf, it’s very important to give them space -- 500 yards to be exact. You can also call the hotline and report the sighting to 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343) or U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.