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No show for right whales as calving season ends

Senator steps up the protection fight

Right whales were so elusive this season the only whale spotted on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's Flickr page is a Humpback.
Right whales were so elusive this season the only whale spotted on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's Flickr page is a Humpback. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/myfwc/albu)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A dismal right whale calving season has ended without any calve sightings yet the bad news may lead to tighter restrictions against oil companies testing off northeast Florida.

Six oil and gas companies are seeking permits for airgun testing in the Atlantic right whale breeding and caving areas.

Scientific data show the existence of right whales is at stake with populations down to 430 and only about 100 are breeding females. 

Sen. Bill Nelson is urging federal officials in a letter to deny applications for oil and gas testing off northeast Florida because of increasing threats to endangered right whales, including seismic testing.

"At this rate, they are dying out faster than they are reproducing," Nelson said. "Scientists predict that the species could go extinct by 2040."

The season has seen an unprecedented number of deaths and no new calves added to the plummeting population, dismaying marine biologists.


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