Sunday, January 29, 2012

Right Whale Gains and Losses

This week brought another new calf, bringing the total for the season to five. Right whale #3390 was spotted on 25 January off Ponte Vedra with her first calf by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s aerial survey team. We also received news from our colleagues that right whale #1301, Half Note, was seen several times without her calf. This is the third calf in a row that Half Note has lost.

The fast-moving youngster seen in our area last week was identified by the New England Aquarium as the yearling of right whale #1245. This whale and its mother were absent from our list of whales seen last season. We did receive opportunistic sighting reports of a right whale in Daytona last Thursday, but could not confirm it. Thanks to Team 5 for their search effort.

Sightings continue to dribble in from up to the north of us, near the Florida/Georgia border, but the number of mother-calf pairs remains low. We still hold out hope. A summary by the New England Aquarium suggests that there may be around 100 females that could calve this season. Will water temperatures change? Will the whales appear in our area? We don’t know. This is why we do what we do, collect data that will allow meaningful comparisons with other seasons and, eventually, give us greater insight into the whales’ behavior. We will continue to survey and to report.