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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

First Florida Sighting of the 2014-15 Season

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA research permit #15488.
Happy Whale Season!  The first sighting for the Volunteer Sighting Network was also the first sighting of 2015, and the first documented sighting in Florida!  A call came in to MRC's hotline on the morning of Sunday, January 4th from Volusia County Beach Safety & Ocean Rescue in Daytona Beach Shores.  Brian Brocious was quick enough to record a short video of a right whale on his phone and sent it to the Marine Resources Council after reporting the sighting.   The video confirmed it was a right whale and responders from the Marineland Right Whale Project and the right whale team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) moved quickly to gather photo-ID pictures.  While too far offshore for the Marineland team to photograph, FWC obtained aerial photos and posted the above picture to their right whale Flickr page.

The 2015 right whale calving season is off to a slow start in Florida.  So far, only 14 right whales have spotted in the southeast U.S., including 2 calves.   The numbers are low compared to previous seasons because the aerial survey teams (only two this year) have met poor weather and had to cancel many flights.  With the surveys grounded during bad weather, it's that much more important for shore-based whale spotters to keep a watchful eye on the water so we can report locations of right whales to local ships and ports.  

To keep up with this season FWC whale sightings, visit their 2014-2015 winter calving season page on Flickr.   MRC will continue to post updates with photos to this blog.  In addition, don't forget to check out the Marineland Right Whale Project blog . Happy whale watching!