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Right whale and calf spotted off Hutchinson Island on Friday; NOAA urges people to stay away

NewsRight whale and calf spotted off Hutchinson Island on Friday; NOAA urges people to stay away

HUTCHINSON ISLAND — A female right whale and her calf were seen Friday south of Hutchinson Island, prompting federal officials to urge spectators to give the animals their space.

“We need your help!” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Southeast division tweeted Friday. “Give moving right whales space!”

Federal law requires anyone who sees a right whale to stay at least 500 yards away. Right whales are considered an endangered species and protected under the Endangered Species Act. There are fewer than 350 right whales in existence, with less than 100 breeding females, according to the NOAA website. Fishing gear and collisions with ships are considered among the top threats to the right whale.

FILE - A North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass., March 28, 2018. The fading North Atlantic right whale will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act and requires a series of protective steps to stave off extinction, federal authorities said Tuesday, Dec. 27 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Friday’s sighting of the new pair of right whales is the latest reported by NOAA Fisheries SE. Right whales migrate annually from waters in Georgia and Florida to New England and Canada.

“New moms are bonding with calves,” the agency tweeted.

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NOAA asks anyone who sees a right whale or needs to report an injured marine mammal to call 877-WHALE-HELP.

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