Two southbound North Atlantic right whales have been seen off the beaches — often by people in oceanfront condos — in Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties since December.
The pair sometimes have been seen in very shallow waters — barely deep enough to cover their bulbous bodies.
They’re special not only because they’re endangered marine mammals, but because they’re a mother and her newborn calf. Pilgrim is about 10 years old and this is her first known calf, NOAA Right Whale observers said. Both appear to be in good condition, which is important because there are only 340-350 left in North Atlantic waters.
Whale sightings are reported on social media posts every so often, but that can be a clunky way of tracking their movements. So TCPalm has created the map below to keep tabs on their whereabouts. Bookmark this story and check back periodically to see where Pilgrim and her baby — and perhaps other whales — are today.
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Endangered North Atlantic right whales
The right whales’ plight has been well-documented. They were nearly hunted into extinction over 100 years ago. Whalers called them “right” whales because they were the ones they wanted to kill for their high blubber content, which was used in oil production.
Today, fishing gear is a problem in the northeastern United States, where the whales sometimes become entangled in lobster trap lines in New England waters. Vessel strikes are also a problem.
A vessel speed zone and fishing gear rules throughout the whales’ range have been proposed by federal managers. Both rules are receiving pushback from boating and shipping interests as well as commercial fishing interests.
Since 2017, there have been 94 right whales showing signs of sublethal or serious injuries, including 35 verified dead, according to span NOAA grspanphic. Only about a third of right whale deaths are known, the graphic states.
In just the last week, span newborn cspanlf believed to be just a couple of weeks old was confirmed dead in the Morehead City Port in North Carolina. And an adult whale seen entspanngled in fishing gespanr on Jan. 12 is expected to die, according to the NOAA Whale Disentanglement Team.
If you see a whale, report it to these numbers:
- 888-97-WHALE: Marine Resource Council’s volunteer network
- 877-WHALE-HELP: NOAA hotline
- Marine VHF Channel 16: Coast Guard
Quick facts about right whales
- Weight: Up to 140,000 pounds
- Length: Up to 52 feet
- Lifespan: Up to 70 years
- Region: New England is where they feed. The Mid-Atlantic and Southeast is where the mothers give birth.
For a complete list of right whale locations and information about speed zones, fishing restrictions and more, go to WhspanleMspanp.org.