Wednesday, 10 July 2019

As deaths mount, have right whales reached a 'tipping point'?

JULY 8, 2019

by Dinah Voyles Pulver
In February 2016, East Central Florida animal lovers were riveted by an endangered right whale nicknamed Clipper and her baby. Clipper gave birth to the calf off Florida's east coast, then found her way into Sebastian Inlet, giving many people their first look at two of the massive, endangered whales.
This week, right whale biologists and scientists gathered around her body on a distant beach at Grand Etang, Quebec. She is one of six whales found dead in June in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Clipper's story illustrates the highs and lows of the efforts in the United States and Canada to save the critically endangered animals.
Jim Hain, senior scientist and program leader for the Marineland Right Whale Project, fears the whales may have reached "a tipping point."
A network of 200 volunteers in Volusia, Flagler and Brevard counties eagerly watch the ocean each winter hoping for a glimpse of any whale, but especially a female right whale with a new calf.
Word of a sighting or a new calf ripples quickly through the community. Whale calving has dropped off dramatically off Florida's coast in recent years, bottoming out with no new calves in 2018. but seven calves were reported this winter, raising hopes that perhaps the whale calving would begin returning to its former numbers.

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