Another right whale calf spotted off coast of Georgia, 5th this season

Smoke with her second calf off the Georgia coast in 2010. (Tybee Island Marine Science Center)

A right whale named “Smoke” and her newborn calf were spotted by researchers on Dec. 26 off St. Catherines Island in Georgia. It was the fifth calf sighting this season, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Smoke is at least 27 years old, according to FWC, and this is her fourth calf.

Prior to giving birth, Smoke was spotted traveling south with “Caterpillar.” The adult females were off the coast of Virginia in November and research teams captured data and drone video of them. It shows the southern migration of the pregnant right whale “Smoke.”

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute posted some incredible video on social media of the recent calf spotting using a high-resolution Customized Animal Tracking Solution (CATS) suction-cup tag.

FWC wants to point out how low profile the whales are and how little disturbance they make at the surface. This is partly why it can be difficult for boaters to spot right whales, even in good conditions, and why it is important to post a lookout to scan for right whales during winter in the Southeast U.S.

In this YouTube video you can see, “Caterpillar has older but massive propeller marks on her right side. Both she and ‘Smoke’ show signs of past entanglements in fishing gear.”


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