Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wart's New Calf

Calving in right whales can often be a family affair with several generations of females calving in the same year.  This is the case with Wart this year.  She has been seen with a new calf, not in the southeastern calving area as would be expected this time of year, but rather in Cape Cod Bay!  This is the first time she has been photographed since early May 2010 when she was disentangled after first being seen entangled in 2008.

As mentioned in a post on December 31, 2012, Wart's daughter Black Heart and her grand-daughter Millipede both have been seen with calves.  This is Wart's seventh known calf and her first calf since 2005 when she had Black Heart.  

Why is she in Cape Cod Bay with a new calf at this time of year and what was she doing for the last few years is one of the reasons right whales keep everyone on their toes. Right whale mothers have been seen with new calves in areas other than the calving area but it is rare. Usually when a mother is seen with a calf outside the calving area it is because she was missed during the aerial surveys, presuming that she was in the calving area. However, right whale female Derecha, #2360, who gave birth in the Great South Channel in the late spring in 2007, headed south and was seen off Florida on 17 July.  She then turned around and was seen in the Bay of Fundy for the month of September.  It will be interesting to see if Wart will head south as well.
Right whale Derecha #2360 seen in the Bay of Fundy September 4, 2007 after swimming from the Great South Channel to Florida and back with her calf.

Right whale Derecha #2360 seen in the Bay of Fundy September 4, 2007 after swimming from the Great South Channel to Florida and back with her calf.

Two of the females seen on Jordan Basin in the Gulf of Maine just over a year ago have been seen with calves in January.  The Jordan Basin is a proposed mating area for right whales and with these two females, that connection now seems solid, but as with all things to do with right whales is probably one of several mating areas.  It is an excellent reason to protect the area for right whales and make it a critical right whale habitat.

With so few whales, it is amazing that they can do so many unexpected things.

 

1 comment:

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