- The right whale calf was seen off Jacksonville, Florida.
- Last year no calves were seen off the entire east coast.
- The population of endangered species is just over 400.
For the first time in nearly two years, off the coast of Florida, a rare calf was seen for a right whale.
The whale was sighted on Friday off Jacksonville, Florida, near the mouth of the St. Johns River. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fish and Wildlife Research Institute reported in a Facebook post. It was seen by observers with Coastwise Consulting aboard the Bagger Bayport. The mother of the calf had been seen from Georgia five days earlier.
Julie Albert, coordinator of the Whale Watching Hotline at the Marine Resources Council, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that five of the first six whales seen Florida this season may have been pregnant women.
The endangered whales usually migrate from the northern Atlantic off New England and Canada – where they feed and breed – to the coastal waters off Georgia and Florida to give birth.
Last year no calves were spotted all along the east coast. In the previous year, only five calves were counted.
(MORE: Neudate Sue Trump government to block offshore oil drilling )
The species was almost hunted to extinction. Scientists believe that something over 400 remains. According to NOAA Fisheries, less than 100 are female breeders . Right whales migrate from the North Atlantic Ocean to the coast off Florida and Georgia to give birth.
Twenty fatalities of right whales were documented in 2017-2018, according to the NOAA Fisheries. Dangers for whales include entanglement with commercial fishing gear or hitting boats.
Many environmentalists also fear that a federal plan allowing oil and gas companies to launch earthquake tests could further damage the species.
In November, the national maritime fishery service granted "five random harassment permits" to five private companies seeking oil and gas exploration on the Atlantic Ocean. The permits allow companies to "harass members of many marine mammal species."
Nine Advocates General from Maine to North Carolina have joined a lawsuit aimed at stopping these tests .
Weather Company's main journalistic mission is to report breaking weather news, the environment, and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company IBM.