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