North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairing [NOAA 2005-07-06]
The 28th North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairing of 2005 has been spotted and confirmed by officials at the NOAA Fisheries Service.
“With so few of these right whales left ??? approximately 300 ??? we are very excited about sighting another mother-calf pair,” said NOAA Fisheries Service Director Bill Hogarth. “Although this latest calf is small, it looks health and strong at this point.”
The pair was spotted off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida and then again off the coast of South Carolina. Marine biologists at the New England Aquarium confirmed that this was a unique pair, making it the 28th spotted this year. 2005 has been one of the best years on record; in 2001, 31 right whale pairs were spotted.
The North Atlantic whale lives mainly in coastal or shelf waters between the southeastern United States and the Bay of Fundy. This population was depleted by commercial whaling.
Although the Endangered Species Act of 1973 helps protect right whales, their recovery has been slowed mainly due to injuries and deaths sustained from collisions with boats or entanglements in fishing gear. So even though this particular calf appears healthy and strong, it still has a long road ahead of it.
“Right whales are critically endangered,” Hogarth said. “NOAA Fisheries Service is working in a number of different ways to try to stop their decline, and to help find ways to help them survive, but we have a lot of very tough challenges. Our oceans are very busy places, and the right whale faces many dangers.”