Welcoming No. 14: New right whale calf spotted off Cumberland Island

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fish Southeast

A North Atlantic right whale calf was spotted off Cumberland Island on Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports.

This marks the fourteenth calf recorded this season. The mother whale is 21 years old and this is her third calf, NOAA reports.

This is a good reminder to watch out for these gentle giants. 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.

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“Right whales are low profile and can be difficult to see while boating,” FWC said. “They spend a lot of time at or near the surface while in the calving grounds, particularly mother-calf pairs. This is a critical and vulnerable time for right whale mothers to bond with their calves.”

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:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.