First North Atlantic Right Whale Calf Sighting of 2019 in Cape Cod Bay
April 10, 2019
North Atlantic right whale #1204 swims with her calf in Cape Cod Bay on April 7, 2019 after making the long and dangerous journey north from the calving grounds in the southeastern US.
credit: Center for Coastal Studies, permit #19315-1
The first sighting of a North Atlantic right whale calf in Cape Cod Bay this year occurred on April 7th. The calf and its mother, #1204, were sighted by the aerial survey team at the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), making this the first calf sighting in the bay since 2017 as no calves were seen in 2018. This calf was first seen near Amelia Island, Florida on January 17th and is the third calf out of a total of only seven to be seen this year.
#1204 was first seen in 1982 and is at least 38 years old, she last gave birth six years ago and is one of the most successful mothers in the population as this is her ninth calf (#1240 and #1334 have also had nine calves). She was sighted in Cape Cod Bay in April and May of 2018 and was most likely pregnant with her new calf at the time of those sightings. CCS reported in their post announcing the sighting that out of the nine calves she's had, this is only the second one that #1204 has been documented with in Cape Cod Bay. We wish #1204 and her calf the best as they swim and feed in Cape Cod Bay and hope to see the other calves and their mothers in the bay soon!
There is currently a 10 knot speed restriction for all vessels in Cape Cod Bay (a federal restriction on vessels over 65 feet and a state restriction on vessels under 65 feet) along with a ban on lobster traps until April 30th. It is also illegal to approach a North Atlantic right whale within 1,500 feet without a federal research permit. This includes boaters, kayakers, paddle-boarders, swimmers, light aircraft and drone pilots. However, as CCS states, "the right whales often feed very close to shore, offering whale watchers on land unbeatable views" of North Atlantic right whales. Even with these protections - which are unfortunately only seasonal and are lifted at the end of April - these whales still face threats from ship traffic and marine debris in Cape Cod Bay during this time. Thankfully it is currently safer than many areas North Atlantic right whales visit but the battle goes on to make sure they're truly safe.
CCS spots their first 2019 right whale calf in Cape Cod Bay - Press Release - 4/2019
MarineFisheries Advisory - Seasonal Small Vessel Speed Limit in Cape Cod Bay - [.pdf] - 3/8/2019
Third North Atlantic Right Whale Calf of 2018-2019 Calving Season Sighted Off Florida - 1/25/2019
Mandatory Speed Limits in Effect for Cape Cod Bay - 1/2/2019
To find out more about what is happening to North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales and how we can all take actions in our everyday lives to protect them, please visit our Facts and Action sections on our website. We also post updates and pictures on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.