Gosh! In 20+ years of the program, I can’t remember this kind of weather. Calm seas (often sea state 2, except on Saturdays), light westerly winds, and warm sun. The meteorologists report record warmth. Likewise, water temperatures are warm.
Our last mother-calf sighting was from Hammock Dunes, Old Salt Park, and then Surf Club on 12 January . . . catalog #3370, Archipelago, and calf. Since then, we have had reports of fleeting and elusive singles . . . on 31 January, 2 February, and 17 February. A sighting on 23 February went unverified.
Our one-and-only mother-calf pair for the season, Archipelago, made a strong showing early on. And then, went absent. The records compiled by the Florida team show that they were sighted periodically in northern Florida and southern Georgia. The most recent sighting was on 15 February, off St. Simons Island, Georgia.
And, the one and only mother-calf pair, Pilgrim and calf, sighted by our partners to the south, the MRC, was seen by them on 18 and 19 January in Vero Beach, and most recently seen on 9 February, off Cape Hatteras, and heading north.
Indications are that this was an early and warm season, with a smallish number of right whales. (The number of right whales here in the southeastern U.S. is not so different from last year.)
But, don’t despair. We have experienced these kinds of seasons before. Remember that, “every day, every season, and every whale is different.” We’ll continue with a strong survey effort for the remaining two weeks, right through 12 March.
After a hiatus of two years due to the pandemic, we held a mid-year meeting on 11 February. We passed out questionnaires, had a raffle, and had brisk sales of “whale gear.” Jim and Sara gave presentations. The pot-luck “snack buffet” had many treats, two of which were the carved “right whale watermelon” by Greg Tougas and the “right whale cookies” by Carole Adams. Most excellent.
Examples of the wonderful treats at our mid-season event on 11 February.
Mark Your Calendars
Our last dedicated survey day of the 2023 season will be on Sunday, 12 March.
From Monday, 20 February through Friday, 24 February, we mentored a student from New York. Kyriaki (Kiki) Gavriil is a junior, enrolled in a science research program, at Byram Hills H.S. in Armonk, NY. While here, she also visited with the Florida Fish & Wildlife team.
During the week of 20 February, we worked with Kyriaki (Kiki) Gavriil, a student from Byram Hills H.S. in Armonk, NY.
We’re working with Brooke and Macie from the Flagler College digital media and communications program, on a right whale video. Jeff and Sue, along with Glenn from Team 2 were interviewed. Sara was also interviewed. We will likely show this video at the upcoming year-end meeting.
Currently, the number of calves born this season stands at 12. One died off of North Carolina. The number of “alive” calves stands at 11. Early on in the season, we were hoping for a calf production in the 20s, with a continuing hint of a small rebound. It appears now that this will not be realized. We, along with other investigators, are studying water temperatures and other factors.
As we wind down for this season, thanks to everyone for your good efforts.