By NewsLine Staff
mail@floridanewsline.com

Marine Resources Council (MRC) has been training and coordinating a dedicated volunteer sighting network of coastal residents, businesses, and beachgoers to identify and report right whale sightings off the coast of Florida since 1995. MRC is seeking shore-based volunteers in northeast Florida to report whale sightings. This will help protect them from collisions with vessels, initiate a disentanglement response (if necessary), help researchers gather photo-ID, genetic, and behavioral data; assist with tracking their migration and more.

Join Marine Resources Council at the GTMNERR Visitor Center (formerly known as the Environmental Education Center), 505 Guana River Road, on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1:30 pm – 3 p.m. to learn about these whales. Right whale history, biology, threats, conservation, and spotter training will be discussed. The class is free and RSVP is not required.

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The presence of a second right whale calf this winter off Ponte Vedra Beach on Sunday, Jan. 13 was a welcome sight for researchers. North Atlantic right whales are highly endangered, with only 411 individuals left in the population. There were zero calves born in 2018, and only five in 2017. Their greatest threats are entanglements with fishing gear and collisions with vessels.

Right whales can be seen very close to shore. How do you tell a right whale from another whale? Right whales have:

  1. Rough, white patches of skin on the head called callosities
  2. Short, stubby, black flippers on the sides of the body
  3. Triangular black tail with smooth edges and a deep notch in the middle
  4. No dorsal (back) fin
  5. V-shaped blow of water when they exhale

Report whale sightings as soon as possible to MRC’s right whale sighting hotline at 888-97-WHALE or (888) 979-4253 from December through April.

Photo courtesy Marine Resources Council

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