Thursday, March 5, 2009

Will the number of right whale calves this year break the 40 mark?

As of March 3, there have been 38 right whale mothers and calves identified on the calving grounds in the SE U.S. and one dead calf not currently attributed to a particular mother. A few possible mothers are still in the calving area so the number could grow. This number of calves is beginning to reach what should be seen biologically in this population but historically has been much lower and certainly an incredible difference from 2000 when only one right whale calf was born. Over 200 right whales have been seen this winter on the calving grounds, another extremely high number where far fewer right whales are usually seen. Over 80% of these mothers may bring their calves to the Bay of Fundy which could make for a very interesting summer.

Unfortunately, Bridle, #3311, is still entangled and her condition appears to be deteriorating. Disentanglement attempts are planned in hopes that some of the lines can be cut and relieve this whale of a painful burden. She spent several days off Florida and Georgia when she was first seen entangled and then travelled as far north as Block Island off Rhode Island before turning around and heading back to Florida. A satellite telemetry buoy attached to the trailing lines has been providing the position data for her travels which greatly helps in planning an disentanglement attempts.

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