Saturday, December 8, 2012

First Calf of 2013 Calving Season

A recreational boater off Hilton Head, SC, reported the first right whale mother and calf for this calving season on November 27, 2012.  While most right whale females have their calves off the coast of Georgia and Florida, winter surveys extend up to North Carolina to cover the range of normal occurrence of right whale females and their calves.
Right whale male, Gemini, diving in the Bay of Fundy September 17, 2011
Of course, we are hopeful for more calves than in 2012 when only seven calves were born with one female loosing her calf, but we shall have to wait and see.  There were certainly more right whales in the Bay of Fundy in 2011 than in 2010, which may bode well.  A year of low food resources for a female would be reflected not the next calving season but the one following, for example 2010 lack of sightings of right whales in the Bay of Fundy and the 2012 low number of calves.  Females need to have a certain amount of blubber to ensure they can nurse their calf for a full year, without that blubber, they will not get pregnant.

In early December, a small group of right whales have been spotted off Jeffrey's Ledge in the Gulf of Maine and spurred a notice for large vessels in those waters to slow down to 10 knots.  This area in the Gulf of Maine is suspected to be a breeding area for right whales.  The calving area is not a breeding area for right whales, unlike humpback and grey whales.

Right whale surface active group in the Bay of Fundy August 24, 2011
Keeping our fingers crossed for more calves.  The season extends from December to March.

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