WHALES: New Right Whale Calf – March 2021


North Atlantic right whale #3520, Millipede, and her gloriously healthy three-month old calf caused quite a stir when they were spotted by our aerial survey team in Cape Cod Bay on March 3, a month earlier than expected! Right whale mother/calf pairs typically don’t arrive until late March or early April, so to see them this soon is a real surprise. The pair was first observed by Florida Fish & Wildlife Research Institute on December 6, 2020 off Vilano Beach, Florida. Their last known sighting in the Southeastern US was on February 3, 2021 off Little Talbot Island, Florida.

Millipede’s 2021 calf. Cape Cod Bay, 3/3/21. CCS, NOAA permit #19315-1.

Millipede and her calf survived a dangerous, 1,200 mile-long obstacle course of ships and fishing gear to reach Cape Cod Bay. Now that they’re here it’s up to all of us to keep them safe. HELP PROTECT THE RIGHT WHALES! Currently in its fourth year, the Center for Coastal Studies’ Right Whale Emergency Initiative (RWEI) expands on our decades-long effort to protect the right whales that congregate in and around Cape Cod Bay every winter and spring.

As the right whale population continues to decline due to high mortality and low birth rates, and as evidence grows that our waters are becoming increasingly important as a feeding and nursery ground for the last right whales, the Center’s research, rescue, education and advocacy work is more important than ever.

Please donate to the Right Whale Emergency Initiative today, and help us continue the battle for the future of the right whales. SUPPORT THE RIGHT WHALE EMERGENCY INITIATIVE TODAY Are you 70 ½ or older? A Qualified Charitable Distribution may be right for you. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Millipede, was born in 2005 to #2040 (Naevus), the daughter of #1140 (Wart).

Wart was entangled in fishing gear for at least three years before being disentangled by the CCS Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team in 2010. Naevus, Wart’s 1990 calf, was documented with an entanglement in August 2010 in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. She was spotted again a month later, gear-free.

Millipede survived a vessel strike when she was less than a year old, and is named for the scars on her right flank created by the propeller marks.

It’s hard to believe that these three whales, with all that they have endured so far, are actually the lucky ones. Despite the odds, they survived their wounds.

Others were not so fortunate. Millipede’s first calf, born in 2013, was not resighted after leaving the Southeastern US, and it’s unlikely that it survived the journey north. In the last three months alone, three of the 18 right whale calves born this season are known or presumed to have died. Since 2017, a total of 34 right whale deaths have been documented, with 14 more whales currently known to be entangled and/or injured. The actual numbers of individuals impacted is likely substantially higher.

The future of Millipede, her new calf, and the fewer than 360 remaining North Atlantic right whales, is in our hands. We must do everything we can to break the cycle of death and injury from entanglement and vessel strike.

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