The Marine Resources Council's Right Whale Monitoring Program was established in 1995 to reduce human impacts to the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Citizens on the east coast of Florida report land‑based sightings of right whales to our hotline (1‑888‑97‑WHALE). This information is passed on to local ship traffic to avoid ship strikes, which account for over one‑third of documented right whale deaths in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Calf of the 2012 Season

The first calf of the 2012 right whale calving season has been spotted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Central EWS (Early Warning System) Survey Team. On December 20th, Half-Note (#1301 in the whale catalog) was spotted about 7 nautical miles off the northern tip of Cumberland Island, Georgia. Half-note was spotted by the South Carolina survey team off the coasts of South Carolina and Savannah, GA, previously, without a calf. In fact, Half-note's sighting off South Carolina was the first confirmed sighting of a right whale in the southeast all season. At the time her calf was spotted, it was less than 4 days old.

Four juveniles and another potential mom, tentatively identified as #1812, were all spotted off southern Georgia as well. We now have up to 9 right whales in the southeast U.S. that we know of. If we're able to get you some pictures, we'll be sure to do so!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you all!
Julie and Kerry

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Whales in the Southeast!

While there have been no Right Whales sighted off the coast of Florida yet this season, there have been two more unconfirmed sightings off the coast of Georgia. Once of the sightings included 4 adult whales heading southeast. The other sighting was of a mother and calf heading northwest. If this second sighting is confirmed, we will have the first known calf of the season!
So far, here in Florida, we have had an unusually warm winter. This may be keeping the whales north of us for the time being. Maybe we'll be lucky and have a cold front or two roll through so that we have the opportunity to spot some right whales soon!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Right Whales Detected off Georgia

As more of an effort is being made to detect right whales through passive acoustics, the results are paying off. Until today, the furthest south a right whale was confirmed was a single female off South Carolina on Nov. 22nd. However, this morning an alert was sent to mariners stating that right whales have been acoustically detected off the coast of Georgia, southeast of Savannah about roughly 11 miles offshore! They're on their way! The aerial survey teams in south Georgia and north Florida have started their surveys. We'll be on standby to see what they find!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011-2012 Volunteer Training Schedule

If you would like to become a volunteer with the Right Whale Volunteer Sighting Network, we suggest that you attend one of our training sessions. The schedule is below and can also be found on our website, http://www.mrcirl.org/whale/pictures/Classes.pdf, in a printable PDF version.

Friday, December 9 6pm-8pm Marine Discovery Center
520 Barracuda Blvd., New Smyrna Beach
(386) 428-4828

Saturday, December 10 10am-11:30am City Island Library Center
105 E. Magnolia Ave., Daytona Beach, FL
(386) 257-6036

Wednesday, December 14 6pm- 7:30pm Cocoa Beach Library
550 N. Brevard Ave., Cocoa Beach, FL
(321) 868-1104

Monday, January 9 6pm-7:30pm Cape Canaveral Library
201 Polk Ave, Cape Canaveral, FL
(321) 868-1101

Saturday, January 14 10:30am-12pm Melbourne Beach Library
324 Ocean Ave, Melbourne Beach, FL
(321) 956-5642

Sunday, January 15 2:30pm-4pm New Smyrna Beach Library(Auditorium)
1001 S. Dixie Hwy., New Smyrna Beach
(386)-424-2910

Monday, January 23 6pm-7pm Florida Oceanographic Society
Speaker Series
Blake Library
2351 SE Monterey Rd., Stuart, FL
(772) 221-1409

Wednesday, January 25 7pm-8pm David Schechter Community Center
1089 S. Patrick Dr., Satellite Beach,
(321)-773-6458

Please call the Right Whale Sighting Hotline at 1-888-979-4253 for more information

Monday, December 5, 2011

19th Biennial Marine Mammals Conference

Last week, the 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals took place in Tampa, Florida. This week-long conference, held in locations all around the world, was an amazing opportunity for the Right Whale Volunteer Sighting Network to gain publicity and sell some door mats. Julie and I attended the conference, and were able to sell approximately 60 mats and a variety of jewelry and other items, benefitting the volunteer sighting network.

This was also a great opportunity to connect with others in our field and learn about cutting edge right whale and marine mammal research. I, for example, attended a talk about right whale vision. It turns out they can see only one color pigment. This one pigment corresponds exactly to the pigment of the copepod that is their main species of prey. Julie attended a talk about the North Pacific right whale, whose population, sadly, has dwindled to about 30 individuals.

Attendees and exhibitors came from all around the world. It was wonderful to see such a dynamic and diverse group of individuals coming together for the same cause. The exhibitors next to our booth were from Taiwan. They were at the conference to promote the conservation of a very unique species of pink dolphin, Sousa chinensis. There are only about 100 of these dolphins left in the world, the only known population being in the Indo-Pacific.

Overall, we learned a lot, educated people in the marine mammal field about our program, and were able to raise some money for the program. It was a great week!

-Kerry












Tuesday, November 22, 2011

They're on Their Way!

The first Right Whale sighting of the season was reported yesterday off of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. While the sighting has not yet been officially confirmed as a right whale, this is a good sign that the Right Whales are on their way south to their calving grounds!







Sunday, November 20, 2011

Julie and I had a great time at the Right Whale Festival in Jacksonville yesterday! The turnout and support was great! It was amazing to see so many proactive people who were eager to learn about the right whale and support all of us who have put forward effort towards increasing the population of this majestic species. Participating vendors included non-profits, government organizations, local schools and universities, artists, and local businesses.
Thanks to all of you who turned out to support the festival!
Kerry & Julie








Friday, November 18, 2011

Julie and I are excited to be heading up to Jacksonville very shortly for the Right Whale Festival tomorrow! Hope to see some of you all there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Updated 2011 Whale Names

Every year the New England Aquarium selects names for about 15 right whales. The selected names are supposed to be representative of identifying traits of the whale. The 2011 whales have been named and are listed below, along with an explanation of why the name was selected for that particular whale.

Snoopy (#1056): Named for a distinctive scar on the right side of the head that looks like Snoopy-especially from the air.

Argo (#1218): There is a small scar on the head between the bonnet and the coaming. The scar resembles Jason’s ship "Argo" as it sailed between the Clashing Rocks.

Glacier (#1402): The scar on the back of this whale looks like a melting Glacier.

Crest (#1513): The thick white scar on the dorsal peduncle looks like a strip of toothpaste. This scar could also represent the crest of a wave.

Crater (#1609): There is a divot scar on the right shoulder.

Bowtie (#2410): The scar on the back of this animal represents a bowtie.

Harmonia (#3101): This whale is the daughter of the whale named Aphrodite. In Greek mythology Harmonia was the daughter of Aphrodite. Additionally, Harmonia is renowned in the ancient story for the necklace that she received on her wedding day. The scar in front of this whale’s bonnet resembles a draped necklace.

Cypress (#3440): Her callosity resembles a cypress tree because it is straight, but also twisty and knobby.

Dog-Ear (#3590): This whale is named for the bent left fluke. The bent corner of a book’s page is called a dog-ear.

Bongo (#3623): The 2 sets of peninsulas look like a collection of bongo drums.

Phantom (#3802): Named for the prop scar that goes over the right head and into the left blowhole-reminiscent of the mask the phantom of the opera wears to cover the right side of his face.

Marlin (#3805): The line scar exiting the right mouth of the whale resembles the common visual of a jumping marlin caught on a line. Additionally, from a distance the scar itself looks like the long pointy bill of the marlin.

Sharkbait (#3945): In Finding Nemo, Nemo finds himself abducted from the ocean and placed into a fish tank with an assortment of fish and invertebrates also stolen from the sea. The "tank gang" initiate Nemo into their group via an initiation ceremony. Despite having a disfigured fin Nemo swims through the bubbling Mount Wannahawkaloogee and receives the name "Sharkbait." Despite being attacked by a shark as a young whale, this whale managed to survive and is named in honor of his strength and the scar he carries as a reminder of his early life and struggles.



Photos: North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium
Top Left: Crest



Bottom Right:Sharkbait

Door Mats Are In!

Yesterday we received our shipment of door mats, a.k.a. the "Right Mats." These mats are made out of floating fishing rope that is outdated and harmful to whales that become entangled in it. The shipment that we received has a great variety of different colored mats and different sizes. Feel free to stop by the Lagoon House, and pick one up. The sooner the better, in order to get your first choice of colors. We are open from 9-5 Monday through Thursday and 9-2 on Saturday. We also plan to sell these mats this coming Saturday at the Right Whale Festival in Jacksonville. If you will be in the area stop by and say hello, it's sure to be a great time!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hey Everyone!


It's almost November, which means that right whale calving season is just around the corner! Here at the MRC we are gearing up for an exciting winter. We are hitting the ground running in November with our "Right Mat" fundraiser and by attending the Right Whale Festival in Jacksonville on November 19th.


The "Right Mat" door mats and dog leashes are made out of reclaimed fishing rope, the same fishing rope that right whales often become entangled in. Whales find themselves entangled in this rope because it floats. Recently, Maine lobstermen have converted from using floating rope to using more whale-friendly sinking rope. However, this change comes at a high cost to lobstermen in time, effort, and money to buy new rope. The "Right Mats" and dog leashes are made with the discarded fishing rope to keep it out of landfills. In return, for every mat sold, a portion of the profits are returned to the lobstering community to help with the cost of purchasing whale friendly fishing line. What a great idea!!



Please help support the cause and MRC's Right Whale Volunteer Sighting Network by purchasing a door mat or dog leash. We will be placing a large order during the month of November and if you would like to pre-order one, feel free to call us at 321-725-7775, on the whale hotline at 1-888-979-4253, or via email at council@mrcirl.org. Mats and leashes can be picked up at the Lagoon House in Palm Bay, at the Right Whale Festival in Jacksonville on Nov. 19th.





We will also be selling the mats the the Right Whale Festival and at the Biology of Marine Mammals Conference in Tampa. Pricing is as follows:


Sm. Door mat (18x30") $35


Med Doormat (21x33") $45


Large Doormat (24x36") $65


Dog Leash (5') $10



Finally, we encourage you all to attend the Right Whale Festival in Jacksonville on November 19 from 10am-4pm. The festival features a beach clean-up, activities for children, music, food, and displays geared towards informing and inspiring the community about right whales, their habitat, and their conservation needs. More information on the festival can be found at http://public.sea2shore.org/right_whale_festival/. We hope to see you there!






Keep checking this blog throughout the coming winter for up-to-date information on right whale events and right whale sightings!





All the best! ~ Kerry Soltis and Julie Albert




Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Right Whales off Indian Harbour Beach

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the first official post of MRC's Right Whale Monitoring Program blog. I'm happy to tell you we verified a sighting of at least two right whales on Tues., Jan. 4th off Futch Park at Paradise Beach in Indian Harbour Beach, FL. Cindy Dolaway, who had just signed out a pair of binoculars for the season, called within hours of receiving them to report she had already found right whales. (I think I need to trade binoculars with her!) We verified two adults/juveniles heading slowly south around 5:00p.m. Several people think they may have seen an additional one or two whales close by, so there may be more. Based on preliminary IDs of the whales, we believe they are juveniles about 2-3 years old. Please keep your eyes on the water and call the hotline if you see anything! - Julie