Sunday, May 1, 2022


Snow Cone, #3560, and calf were last spotted by the Marineland Group on 17 February off Ormond Beach. Then it got quiet. We waited. Two months and a thousand miles later, Snow Cone and calf were sighted east of Cape Cod by the Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team. The sightings came on Saturday, 23 April, and Sunday, 24 April. Scott Landry, of the Entanglement Response Center, describes that the overall condition and entanglement of Snow Cone seems no better or worse than that of the February sighting. Scott describes that she is now thinner and the wound around her rostrum is more apparent. The wrap of rope around her rostrum is complicated by the baleen at the front of her mouth.  

Snow Cone is well known. Recall that Snow Cone lost her first calf in 2020 but reappeared in December 2021 with another calf. Resilient. She was prominently shown in the Last of the Right Whales documentary.

There is further news from Cape Cod. #2360, Derecha, and #2040 Naevus, were sighted in Cape Cod Bay by the CCS team on 13 April.  Of the three mother-calf pairs seen by the MRWP during the 2022 season, all have successfully made the northward migration and appeared in the Cape Cod area. 

As for Snow Cone, there is caution and uncertainty about the entanglement, wound, and overall condition.  Feeding was observed for the Cape Cod sighting.  A good thing.  However, ongoing monitoring is underway.  We are hopeful for a good outcome:  A healthy reproductive female, and an additional member of the right whale population.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022



As the 2022 season draws to a close (it’s been quiet for two weeks now, probably the whales are gone, headed north, toward Cape Cod and Canada), a huge thank you to the many volunteers and responders that contributed to our results this season.


Our new five-minute video entitled 2022 Volunteers shows snapshots of our dedicated and capable volunteer corps. Go to YouTube, and then Marineland Right Whale Project, or, click here.

Last of the Right Whales film

At our season-end wrap-up event on Saturday afternoon, 19 March, we showed the most excellent film, Last of the Right Whales. Sara and several of our volunteers were prominently included. The film will likely receive wide distribution; if and when it airs on PBS we will notify you. In the meantime, there are wonderful excerpts and featurettes available. Go to YouTube, search on HitPlay Productions, and then select Videos, or click here, to find nearly two dozen 2-minute clips. Ones that we particularly like are: the Official Trailer; Meet the NARW Citizen Scientists; Behind the Scenes: Music; and, The Making of LOTRW..

For upcoming screenings:

* Cape Cinema (Cape Cod) Dennis, MA, 24 March 2022, 7:00 p.m.

* Patriot Cinemas, Nickelodeon, Portland, ME, 27 April 2022, time TBA.

* Salem Film Fest, Peabody Museum, Salem, MA, 26 March, 11:00.  It is also available for streaming 28 March through 3 April. Streaming tickets are available here for $10.

As additional dates and locations are added, they will be listed at

Right Whale News Posted

The March 2022 issue of Right Whale News has been posted at  Select Right Whale News, and Current Issue from the Menu bar.

Whale Gear

The sale of whale gear at our season-end event was vigorous. We have some caps, pins, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, and hoodies left. If you would like some of these, come by the office prior to 31 March (call Sara (207) 281-3541, or Jim (904) 923-5050, between 9 and 2, to  make sure we are here.) Checks or cash only.


As we have done for many years, we put forward an appeal at the end of the current season. Throughout the year we apply to foundations and organizations for support. This covers the majority of program costs. We now appeal to you to help fill the shortfall, typically a few thousand dollars. This is not insurmountable. Just like the rest of the program, the collective effort makes things happen. Donations are tax-deductible. Please make checks out to Associated Scientists at Woods Hole, or simply ASWH, and mail to Jim Hain, ASWH, Box 721, Woods Hole, MA 02543.  We are requesting donations of $100, but any amount is very welcome.

Monday, March 7, 2022


Good news! We have a new mother, bringing the total to 15 right whale calves so far ! Female #4180 and her 2nd calf were sighted off North Carolina on 2 March. The calf was just a few days old. A range of birthdays is expected and this is one of the reasons why the right whale calving ‘season’ spans the months of November through April.

Right Whale Talk at Flagler College

Flagler College Forum on Government and Public Policy presents a lecture delivered by award-winning reporter and photo- journalist for the Boston Globe, David Abel on 8 March at 7:00 p.m. He will present “Entangled - The Race to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale.” This event at the Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada Street, St. Augustine, is free and open to the public.

Are We Done ?

Our most recent sighting was on 22 February at the Flagler-by-the-Sea Campground. The mother-calf pair, Derecha and calf, subsequently swam south. Since then, it has been quiet. Are we done with sightings for the season? Always the optimists, we hope for future sightings and surprises. Please continue look out to sea whenever you are on the coast and keep handy the Right Whale Hotline phone card included in an earlier post just in case you are lucky enough to spot one!

Last Survey Day

The final day of dedicated surveys for the Marineland Right Whale Project is Sunday, 13 March. However, we will continue to be available to respond to any sightings called into the Right Whale Hotline.

Saturday, February 19, 2022


And this is why we do this.

On Wednesday, 16 February, Team 2 reported whales off Marineland. There was an east wind, with a sea state of Beaufort 4. The whales, whoever they were, were distant, surfacing briefly, spending time submerged, and moving south quickly. We worked. We worked the sighting down past Surf Club, Washington Oaks, Malacompra, 16th Road, and Varn Park. Sara made five drone flights and expended five batteries. The sea state remained at 4 the entire day. The whales traveled 7 nautical miles in 8 hours. We got neither a close look nor any photos.

We were to get another chance. On Thursday, 17 February, FWC relayed a report of whales in Ormond Beach, a mother-calf they said. We alerted Teams 4 and 5. By 10:00 we were on the deck of the Cardinal Street Beach Patrol tower-searching. No joy. Then down to Andy Romano Park. Again, no joy. We spaced our volunteer spotters throughout the area. At 10:50 we sighted blows from a lookout point in an empty lot. Sara launched the drone. Some excitement. The video monitor showed the images transmitted back from the drone-Snow Cone!

We had seen Right whale #3560, Snow Cone, on two previous occasions this season. Additionally, FWC reported that she and calf had been seen fairly regularly from 2 December to 24 January, then they dropped off the radar screen. There was a possible sighting (not 100% confirmed) off Georgia on 12 February. And then-the Ormond sighting.

You may recall from the email of 14 January, that this remarkable female lost her 2020 calf, and with great resilience rebounded to produce another calf, all while entangled. The images below show the rope going in one side of her mouth, coming out the other side, and trailing behind. Snow Cone’s overall condition seems good, but the wound on her forward rostrum is of concern. Her (male) calf looks both rambunctious and healthy.

Snow Cone and calf, 17 February 2022, Daytona Beach.  (Photos: Sara Ellis, permit #20626.)

Responders to the sighting on 17 February 2022.  (Photo: Vinnie Palazzolo)

We will be on alert for additional sightings and photos before the pair heads north. Strong best wishes for survival of Snow Cone and her calf.

And, oh yes, World Whale Day is this Sunday, 20 February.

Friday, February 11, 2022


Mark your calendars.

In 2020 and 2021, the Marineland Right Whale Project participated in the making of the Canadian documentary, Last of the Right Whales. Upcoming is an opportunity to view this excellent film.

The Florida premiere will take place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, 23 February, at the historic Sun-Ray Cinema, 1028 Park Street, in Jacksonville.  Afterwards, Dinah Pulver, environmental reporter for USA today,  will moderate a panel discussion with Sara Ellis, Julie Albert, and Nadia Gordon.  Tickets can be purchased online here 

Masks are recommended.

Watch the Official Trailer

Recent Promotion featuring Snow Cone

Thursday, February 3, 2022


The two whales in the two days of the second month were interesting.

At 10:30 on Tuesday the 1st, Mike Adams with Team One at Green St. called. Whales up to the northeast.  The spotters included Sue and George Miller. 

At mid-morning on Tuesday, 1 February, sharp-eyed Team 1 had a distant sighting. The story unfolded during that day and the next. People, the Beach Patrol, planes, and drones all contributed.

We responded, first going to Crescent Beach and then Butler Beach. From Butler Beach, we briefly saw distant blows and backs. And then, nothing. As it was too far and too elusive for us to launch the drone, we relayed the sighting information to FWC and their aerial crew. Shortly thereafter, two whales were photographed from the plane. They were two adult females, #3890, Babushka, and #4190, Curlew. The last two digits of their catalog numbers aroused our curiosity. They were both offspring of female #2790, and . . . they were sisters. There’s more. They are both listed as potential mothers. 

The next day, Wednesday the 2nd, Jen with the FWC called. Whales in Ormond-by-the Sea. We alerted responders in the area and got on the road. After several stops with no sightings, a call with the Beach Patrol got us connected. We quickly went to Andy Romano Park in Ormond Beach, but needed to go further south. We got in a single drone flight in increasing winds and sea state. It was the two sisters.  Their behavior was similar to the previous day but different from what we generally observe from mother-calf pairs . . . they were surfacing briefly and doing extended submergences.  And, they were moving quickly.

The two sisters, Babushka and Curlew, heading south off Ormond Beach, 2 February 2022.  (Drone image, S. Ellis, Permit #20626)

Afterwards, we wondered . . . do they know that they are sisters? Is there a communication or bonding? Are they both pregnant? Will they both have calves this season?

We are reminded that there is a lot we don’t know, but our curiosity is piqued.

And finally, even though our One Call Now system is in place, because of the difficult sighting and deteriorating conditions, we didn’t use it on this occasion.

A short stop on the way home from a sighting. The data are recorded and the images are in the can.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Things change. We can’t predict. We last saw Catalog #2360, Derecha, right off the boardwalk here at Marineland, on 10 January. Bill Gough photographed her breaching (image below). The pair swam north.  

Breaching whale, off Marineland, 10 January 2022.  (Photo: Bill Gough)

Then it got quiet. On 15 January they were seen off Talbot Island, north of Jacksonville. Were they heading north? Well, no. On Sunday the 23rd, the phone rang. Julie Albert with the Marine Resources Council's Right Whale Hotline called with a sighting reported on FaceBook. At about the same time, team member Jim Sullivan reported a sighting from just N of the Flagler Pier. Jim wasn’t on duty. He and his wife were on the way to an anniversary lunch. They kept them in sight until further responders arrived. The FWC aerial team identified the mother as Derecha. and calf. On a drone flight, Sara got images of the belly-up calf, showing a spectacular white belly, and identified the gender as female (image below).  

The 2022 female calf of Derecha.  (Photo: S. Ellis)

Shortly thereafter, they were sighted from Gamble Rogers State Park. Martha Garito got photos from Highbridge (image below).

Derecha and calf off Highbridge, 23 January 2022.  (Photo: M. Garito)

The next day, Monday the 24th, the phone rang at 07:38. Lou Reinwasser, Team 5 N, called in a sighting from Grenada Park in Ormond. Sara got drone images. Derecha and calf, heading S.

Late in the day, the FWC plane reported Snow Cone and calf from Washington Oaks. Shortly thereafter, Donna McCutchan reported them from off Sea Colony. This was another surprise, as they had been last seen up by Amelia Island on Wednesday the 19th.  

So, as of yesterday, we have had two mother-calf pairs in our area > > > the two “remarkable females” described in our previous post.

We have seen repeated  down-and-up/south-and-north movements from both of these pairs. Both were last seen heading south. What does the future hold? 

Friday, January 14, 2022


 We have two remarkable females in our area this season―Derecha and Snow Cone. Both have a history and a story.  As so often happens in life, the story is bittersweet.

Derecha, Catalog #2360, had her 4th calf in the 2020 season. Of the 10 calves born that season, one, that of #2360, Derecha, was injured, apparently within days of its birth. The calf was spotted off Georgia on 8 January with injuries that were consistent with a propeller strike. The injury was judged to make it unlikely for the calf to nurse or survive.  The calf has not been seen since 15 January. But, just under two years later, Derecha was seen off Florida on 18 December 2021 with her 5th calf. She has been seen in our area several times since. 

Next, Catalog #3560, Snow Cone, early on had evidence of previous gear entanglements, as her peduncle was scraped and scarred. At the age of 15, female Catalog #3560 had her first known calf in early December 2019. The exact date and location are unknown, but the event likely took place in Georgia in the first half of the month. The pair was seen frequently during the 2019–20 season. They were popular. But there was to be no happy ending.

After a 2020 season with frequent sightings, the mother-calf pair departed the southeast U.S. and began the northward migration. In the morning of 25 June 2020, a boater reported a floating whale carcass off New Jersey. The dead whale was identified as the male calf of #3560.

It is uncertain whether or not whales grieve or experience pain and emotions, but #3560 might have experienced both.

She continued on the feeding grounds. Additional trauma was in store. On 10 March 2021, #3560, Snow Cone was sighted entangled off Cape Cod. Some line was removed but the entanglement was considered serious.

There is blue sky. On 2 December, Snow Cone was sighted off Georgia―with a calf ! Like Derecha, she had a quick turn-around and a short interval between calves.  Remarkable! 

So, when you see either of these remarkable and resilient females, courtesy and respect are in order.

You may notice that Snow Cone continues to be entangled, and sections of trailing rope can be seen (image below). Folks have asked why is there no intervention or disentanglement?  The answer: at this time, there is great caution and reservation against harassing or impacting the mother-calf pair in the case of a young calf, with a priority on nursing and bonding. Then too, Snow Cone is judged to be reasonably healthy. A judgement has been made by those with expertise that the pair will be given wide berth.

Snow Cone, photographed by S. Ellis from a drone on 13 January 2022, is trailing line (one strand through the mouth) and has a wound on the forward part of the rostrum.  (Permit #20626)

The volunteer sighting network can contribute to watching and documenting and protecting these remarkable females, as well as others that may surprise us as the season goes along.

If you plan to spend time on the coast, please carry the phone card from the previous post and call the Marine Resources Council's Hotline number if you see a whale.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022


The 2022 volunteer sighting network lookouts begin today, Tuesday, 4 January.

To date, 11 Right whale mother-calf pairs have been reported in the waters of the southeastern U.S. Two of these pairs have been reported in the Marineland vicinity.  Others may flow into our area.

In addition, several of the other survey teams to our north have reported reproductive-age females who are potential mothers.

On all counts, we are looking for a strong season within our survey area. If you would like additional tips about spotting whales and how to report your sightings, access the Team Handbook from our website, (select from lower left on the home page).  

Please download this card and carry it in your wallet. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Season 22 Kick Off


Considering appropriate Covid precautions, the planned January 3 gathering at the Whitney Lab auditorium will not be held. Instead, we will follow the protocols used during the 2021 season. To participate this year, we require everyone to have their shots including booster.  If you feel unwell in any way, please stay home until cleared with a test. Wear a high-quality mask. Limit group sizes. Observe distancing.  This is challenging. But we did it last year, and we can do it again. Surveys will begin on Tuesday, January 4 at 8:00 AM.

To offset some of these limitations, we will communicate regularly via email and this blog. We are monitoring Covid closely. If possible, we will hold the mid-year meeting on February 5 and the End-of-year meeting on March 12.  Mark your calendar.

Snow Cone

During the 2020 season, Female Catalog #3560, Snow Cone, and her calf were sighted on nine occasions. They were sighted on January 1, 2020 (the “New Year’s whales”) off Ormond, were seen in the fog on February 12 off Gamble Rogers State Park, and reported headed north off North Carolina on April 6.  

Her popularity was enhanced when, following on a volunteer sighting on 8 March, she/they became a focus of a right whale documentary being filmed for the Canadian Broadcasting Network (CBC).  "Last of the Right Whales."

However, there were some dark clouds. Scars and peduncle marks suggested several earlier entanglements for #3560. Then on the morning of 25 June 2020, a floating whale carcass was sighted off New Jersey. The dead whale was identified as the male calf of #3560. It is uncertain whether or not whales feel pain and emotions, but #3560 may have experienced both.

Then, in March 2021, Snow Cone was sighted entangled off Cape Cod. Some line was removed but the entanglement was considered serious. In May 2021, Snow Cone was reported as entangled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Then, on December 2, she and a calf (#2) were sighted off Cumberland Island, Georgia. Remarkable. Traveling 1,300 miles while pregnant and entangled. Snow Cone still has rope attached to her mouth and trailing from her body (image below). She is challenged―raising and nursing a calf while entangled.  Please be on the lookout.

Snow Cone, #3560, entangled and with calf, 6 December 2021, off Florida. 
(Image: FWC, permit #20556)

Report Posted

The 2020–21 report has been posted to See the items listed at the lower left on the home page. Select “Right whale report ’21.”

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Marineland Right Whale Project Season Summary

Thank You
First and foremost:  Thank you to our most excellent group of volunteers for their time, effort, energy, ideas, and financial support during the 2021 season. 


2021 Summary Video: Second Half

Our drone pilot and video guru, Sara, has prepared a most excellent video of the second half of the season. To view, click on the title below: 

2021 Survey Season: Second Half

Season Summary
In the 2021 season, the Marineland Right Whale Project responded to 30 right whale sightings. Of these, 24 were mother-calf pairs with identifiable photographs, and 3 were mother-calf pairs whose identities could not be determined. There was also a yearling, a pair, and a trio. Of the mother-calf pair sightings, 21 were of Catalog #4040, Chiminea, a 13-year-old with her first calf. On 24 April, the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown reported that Chiminea and her calf had made it safely to Cape Cod Bay. For the MRWP, 2021 was our most successful season in a decade. 

Verified sightings by year for the Marineland Right Whale Project.  The 2021 season was our most successful in a decade (since 2011).

Contributing to these results, the MRWP had 19 days with successful drone flights. The incorporation of drones into our response and identification protocols has considerably enhanced the effectiveness of the program.

Through the collective efforts (including all investigators and research groups) in the Southeastern U.S., 17 new calves were documented in the 2021 season. This was the best calf production in eight years (since 2013). In addition, there were a number of yearlings, adults, and groups. This may hint at a return to the demographics of earlier years, when a diverse group of right whales, in larger numbers, migrated to the Southeastern U.S. As we look to 2022, keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


Offspring of Halo returns
Right Whale Catalog #3546, Halo, is near the heart of our program. We saw her as a calf, with her mother, in the 2005 season. Subsequently, we have seen her, and her calves, in several years since. And, in fact, we (volunteer Becki Smith) contributed to her naming. Last year, in the 2020 season she was seen in the Marineland area, with her 2nd calf, on five occasions (see the YouTube video posted on the Marineland Right Whale Project channel). Then, this year, on Wednesday, 10 March 2021, this 2020 calf, now a yearling, was sighted alone just south of the St. Augustine Inlet.  In the two following days, the 11th and 12th, it was seen around Ponce Inlet and then the Port Canaveral area. Halo and offspring are with us. 

The 2020 calf of Halo, now a yearling, has returned to our area.  What is the value of this excursion?  Unknown.
(Photo: 11 March 2021 by the FWC aerial team.)

Right Whale Calf #17

Right whale Catalog #3593 was spotted with her first calf off Topsail Beach, North Carolina, on 11 March 2021.The sighting was by the North Carolina aerial survey team (see Right Whale News, January 2021) 31 nautical miles off the beach. She has a sparse sighting history in the photo-identification catalog and her sex was unknown until this sighting of her with a calf showed that she is female. 


Early in the season, we wished and hoped for 20 calves this season. We, collectively, are inching forward. Will this goal be attained?


Bad news for Snow Cone

Right Whale Catalog #3560, Snow Cone, was popular with our group in the 2020 season, when she and her first calf were sighted on nine occasions. She appeared to have a nearshore habitat preference―as does her half-sister, Chiminea―which brought her and calf into view of many researchers, volunteers, and citizens. This pair gained some notoriety, when, in mid-March, they swam past Miami and into the Gulf of Mexico. They subsequently returned north. The mother-calf pair is planned to be central to a right whale documentary being prepared by a Canadian film company. But, their story has changed dramatically since last season as Snow Cone appears to be snake bit.  
In the morning of 25 June 2020, a boater reported a floating whale carcass 4 miles off Elberon, New Jersey. The dead whale was identified as her male calf. The wounds along his head and body were consistent with two different vessel collisions.

But wait, there’s more. Just this week, on 10 March 2021 the Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team came across an entangled whale in Cape Cod Bay. It turned out to be Snow Cone. Disentangling efforts are underway. The outlook is uncertain at this time. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021


The wind forecasts for our final week are mixed. Beginning today (Tuesday) we will resume the surveys. There will be moderate east winds for Tuesday through Friday.  Then, on Saturday and Sunday (our final two days), we should have light and favorable winds.

Continuing the Lookouts
Our last day of formal surveys is Sunday, 14 March. We are asking our surveyors and opportunistic spotters to continue spending time along the coast looking for any straggler whales. Please take your binoculars if you have them and have the Right Whale Hotline number handy: 1-888-979-4253. We will be on call, and will respond when you phone.

Season Summary
Every whale, every day, and every season is different. The 2021 season has been no exception. We will provide a season summary toward the end of March.

Saturday, March 6, 2021


It is time for some good news.

Our last right whale sighting was on Monday, 15 February. It was Catalog #1243, Magic, and calf. In the closing days of February, we chased several reported sightings but were unable to verify them. Early March was quiet, very quiet. We had a solid week of good to excellent conditions. No whales.

Here’s the interesting part (you really can’t make this stuff up!). At 8:47 AM on Friday the 5th, Jim sent out an email wondering if there were unaccounted for whales that might surprise us. Minutes later, at 8:49 AM, Julie Albert from Marine Resources Council called with a sighting from Flagler Beach. The caller was the recently elected mayor. She was 100% certain it was a right whale. We went down, flew the drone twice, but had no success with photos. The winds were brisk and increasing, and the sea state was a Beaufort 4+ (numerous white caps). From binocular views, we categorized it as a mother-calf pair, with a large calf.  

The winds were brisk, and there were abundant whitecaps. We were not able to get images from the drone. However, Terry Clark and others were able to identify the sighting as a probable  mother-calf pair, heading south.  (Photo: S. Ellis)

But wait, there’s more. At 10:03 AM, Katie Jackson from Florida Fish & Wildlife, reported a new mother-calf pair, sighted on 4 March, 25 nautical miles east of Jacksonville (waaaay offshore). It was Catalog #3020, Giza, with her third calf. This brings the season total to 16 calves.

And, there’s still more. Up to the north, Millipede, Catalog #3520, and her calf were sighted off Massachusetts, on Wednesday, 3 March, by the Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team. Recall that this mother-calf pair was our first sighting for this season – photographed by Martha Garito off the Flagler pier on Monday, 7 December 2020. This pair successfully made the 1,200 mile journey north. The calf is now three months old, and is described as being healthy and independent. This was the first mother-calf pair of the season for the Marineland Right Whale Project, and, similarly, the first mother-calf pair of the season for the Center for Coastal Studies.

The weather and sighting conditions will improve in the coming week for the final days of our survey season (ends Sunday, 14 March). Please keep good watch on the ocean if you are along the shoreline.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Magic Sighting and First Half Season Wrap Up

Magic Happens
On Monday, 15 February, we responded to a sighting from Survey Team 4, in Ormond-By-The-Sea. The whales were off Highbridge Road. We launched the drone. Just in time for the fog to roll in.  We then did the only thing civilized people can
do—we went to lunch. While at lunch, the phone rang. Earl Sanders had worked south to Ormond Plaza. The fog was lifting and the whales were in view. We went. We flew the drone. We photographed. It was a mother-calf pair, Right whale 
#1243, Magic, a 39 year-old female with her 7th calf. This was a new pair for our area this season.

We have had nearly a solid week of poor weather, wind, and high sea states. The forecast for the coming week, particularly Wednesday through Friday, looks good.

Please scan the water when you are on the coast, for the week, as well as for the remainder of the season. Will we be able to sight additional mothers and their healthy calves? Will we be able to reach our goal of 20+ calves for the season? 

If you believe you have a whale sighting, please call the MRC Right Whale Hotline at 1-888-979-4253. Consider entering this into your cell phone to have it handy.


Video and volunteers

Because of constraints and cautions resulting from COVID-19, our interactions and socializations have been much reduced this season. Reduced but not gone. For a video of the first half of the season (runtime 6:03), click here:

2021 Survey Season: First Half


End of the season

We are in the eighth week of our season. Depending on further whale sightings, the last day will either be 14 or 21 March.  We will advise.


And, as always . . . here’s to light winds and heavy whales.