The sighting of a North Atlantic right whale (NARW) in Cape Cod Bay, off the coast of Plymouth, MA is not unusual, except when the sighting happens between November and February. But, when the whale is a female that hadn’t been seen for nearly three years, and she is accompanied by a calf, then the sighting is cause for celebration. This whale, nicknamed Wart, had been severely entangled in netting for two (probably excruciating) years before the third disentanglement attempt by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies finally set her free in May of 2010. She hadn’t been seen since.
So, it was a very nice surprise when the adult was identified from North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog as ‘Wart’. This calf is her seventh, and her first since 2005. Typically, NARW females have a calving interval of 3-5 years. This eight year stretch between calves may say a great deal about the physical stress that entanglement puts on the body of a right whale, especially a female. There’s a brief story and photo on CBS Local Boston.
The only known calving grown for the NARW is off the coast of southern Georgia and northern Florida. So far in this calving season, including Wart and her calf, there have been 14 mother-calf pairs spotted.
For photographs of both mom and calf, you can visit the Face-ing Extinction: The North Atlantic Right Whale page on Facebook. These photos were taken by staff of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). We encourage you to ‘Like’ the page. One of the goals for this page when it was set up by WDC, NBWM and Audubon Society of RI was to have as many people Like the page as there are NARWs. Presently the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog, which is maintained by the New England Aquarium, lists 509 living whales. Now that we’ve reached that goal, it’s time to double it.