Still no right whale caves this season

Another quiet winter calving season off the Florida coast

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist
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A juvenile humpback whale was spotted by aerial survey teams 18NM off Ponte Vedra Beach on Dec.17, 2017.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A few more right whales showed up off Georgia but so far spotters have not seen any calves. 

Aerial survey team, aboard NOAA's Twin Otter aircraft, spotted 9 right whales off Jekyll Island, Georgia. This sighting brings the total number to 12 right whales between  Florida and Georgia.

Calves are missing along our coast. January's peak caving season long passed and the whales that come to give birth off coastline are unusually low.

This is troubling for scientists following last years grim season when 17 right whale deaths outnumbered a mere five recorded births.

Whales typically show up late December or early January when the water cools to a preferred 57º to 62º range.

Aerial survey teams along the southeast coast have only spotted two females off the Georgia coastline. But on February 20th 

One female was recognized as previously giving birth in the area during a previous season according to FWC scientist, Jennifer Jakush, who works on the North Atlantic Right Whale Project.

Jakush has not seen any mom and calf pairs this year which is very unusual.

For the past several years the count has been low. In fact in 2017 only 3 calves showed up in the southeast.

Very often other marine life are spotted including humpback whales, turtles, fish and sharks during the flights which are flown between December 1st through March 31st.

Aerial surveys have seen only one shark siting this year which is low compared to pervious years. 

Abnormally cold water that dipped into the upper 40s made it difficult for the OCEARCH shark tagging expedition in early February. 

Cold water may of pushed whales to warmer water around New Smyrna. Right whales are sighted more frequently locally when our water is warmer from Jax to Georgia. 

Fewer flights have been in the air this year because of the bad weather and this may be contributing to lower counts. Regardless, the trend over the years is fewer whales and this year so far has been the lowest.

 

 

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