Friday 8 March 2019

Seven rare right whale calves spotted off Florida coast but ‘still isn't enough’

Encouraging sign for the critically endangered species
Only about 450 North Atlantic right whales remain
Associated Press in Daytona Beach, Florida
Sun 17 Feb 2019 17.22 GMTLast modified on Sun 17 Feb 2019 17.26 GMT
Seven rare right whale calves have been spotted so far this winter off Florida’s Atlantic coast, an encouraging sign for the critically endangered species but one which one expert said “still isn’t enough”.
No newborns were spotted during the last calving season and just five calves were counted during the previous year.
Jim Hain, senior scientist and project coordinator for the Marineland Right Whale Project, told local newspaper the Daytona Beach News-Journal: “Every calf that gets us closer to 10 or a dozen is very encouraging.”
But Katie Jackson of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said seven calves “still isn’t enough”.
Scientists estimate only about 450 North Atlantic right whales remain. Jackson said right whales need to deliver 16 to 18 calves a year just to maintain their current population.
The latest whale to give birth had not done so since 2011, researchers said. Usually right whale mothers give birth every four years or so.
Right whales typically migrate from the North Atlantic to give birth off the coasts of Georgia and Florida from December through March.
Threats include collisions with large vessels and entanglement in lobster and snow crab fishing equipment.

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