Sunday, May 7, 2017

Right Whale Calf #5 Sighted

On Sunday, 30 April 2017, an aerial survey team from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, sighted a new mother-calf pair east of Nantucket, in the Great South Channel. The mother was identified as Catalog #1515, first sighted as an adult in 1985, and currently greater than 31 years of age. She was last seen in 2009 in Florida with a calf. Then, she went unseen for the next seven years. As with Catalog #1414, this individual is rarely seen, and much of her life history is unknown.

There are intriguing questions. How is it that these two senior females, with sparse sighting records, converge in the Cape Cod area in 2017 with calves? Where did they come from? Were they simply unsighted in the Southeast US, or, did they have their calves elsewhere? Of the five mothers reported so far for the 2017 season, four are 30 years of age or older. Where are the younger reproductive age females? 

We have had some history with female #1515. On 7 February 2009 she was photographed by the AirCam team with her calf off Hammock Dunes, seen at right. Later that month, on the 21st, the AirCam team documented them again, off Daytona Beach.