A very rare marine mammal is returning to Georgia’s coast. This November 22 a North Atlantic Right Whale was seen off the coast of South Carolina migrating south for the winter. Right whales swim from Canada and New England each year to bear their young along the coast of Georgia, South Carolina and northeastern Florida. Calving season is crucial for this endangered species, since there may be as few as 400 animals. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist Clay George, who heads DNR’s right whale research and monitoring efforts, said cooler weather and water temperatures last winter pushed many of the whales farther south, deeper along the Florida coast. Warmer weather is forecast for this winter so it is very likely there will be more sightings off of Georgia’s coast. Right whales, which can weigh up to 70 tons and reach 50 feet in length, seldom come within sight of land in Georgia, but boaters often see them. More than 150 individual right whales, including 21 calves, were seen off the southeastern U.S. last winter. While the population is increasing at an annual rate of 2 percent, there are fewer than 100 breeding females.
Boaters can learn how to identify and reduce their impact on right whales by downloading the NOAA fact sheet. Click Here