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Right whales

National Oceanic Atmospheric Association

Endangered North American right whales gave birth last winter to the fewest calves seen off the U.S. coast in 17 years, scientists who say the low births support other evidence that the imperiled species' population may be declining.

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Researchers estimate only about 500 of the rare whales still exist. Each winter they migrate to warm Atlantic waters off Georgia and Florida to give birth.


Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NOAA permit #14388-02

It has not been a good year so far for North Atlantic right whales. The endangered animals have their calves off the coast of Georgia, and officials have seen only three calves so far.

In good years, back in the 2000s, wildlife biologist Clay George says there were 22 to 24 calves in a season, but there's been a downward trend over the past five years.

National Oceanic Atmospheric Association

The North Atlantic right whale was hard hit by whaling.

That industry is gone now, and the right whale population is creeping back up. But it’s still small; there are fewer than 500 North Atlantic right whales on earth.

The whales have their calves off the Georgia coast, and the federal government is proposing to protect more of the whale’s habitat there.

“Down here in the Southeast we know a key conservation objective is successful calving,” Barb Zoodsma, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said.

Right Whales Spotted Off Georgia's Coast

Dec 16, 2014
National Oceanic Atmospheric Association

Two North Atlantic Right Whales have been spotted off Georgia’s coast. They’re the first sightings of the endangered whales near Georgia this season.

Every year around this time, the endangered right whales make their way from Canada and New England down to Georgia and Northern Florida. They have their calves in the warm waters off the coast. On Saturday, the first newborn of the season was spotted near Cumberland Island with its mother.