Native Floridian Wildlife Spotlight: The Right Whale

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It’s calving season


ABOVE IMAGE: Right whales are dark gray or black and have light-colored “bumps” called callosity, on their head. Researchers use the pattern of this callosity to identify and record information about each individual whale. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, NOAA Research Permit #15488 image) 

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — It’s calving season! Each year between Nov. 15 and April 15 North Atlantic right whales migrate from their feeding areas in New England and Canada to the warmer, coastal waters off Georgia and northeast Florida. Here they give birth and nurse their young. 

Data collected during the aerial surveys are used to assess right whale distribution, calf births, demographics, and behavior. Many juvenile whales are seen in the calving area. As seen in this photo, these juveniles are often observed rolling, splashing, and socializing with each other near the surface of the water. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit # 665-1652 image)

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered large whales in the world. Right whales can be visible from the beach or while boating.

They have no dorsal fin, so their backs are large and flat. This can make them difficult to spot and boaters are urged to keep a sharp lookout and give right whales plenty of space.

Vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements are currently the largest threats to right whales.

If you spot a right whale, please call 1-877-WHALE HELP to report the sighting.

Right whale calves weigh about 2,500 pounds when they are born and gain over 100 pounds a day while nursing. A calf usually remains with its mother until it is about one year old and 28 feet long. In this photo, the calf (right) is a little longer than its mother’s head. (Image: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA Research Permit # 594-1759)