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15 Jan 2023
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The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered species there on the planet. NOAA puts the number at 350 with only 100 breeding females. 

So spotting a Northern Right Whale just a few hundred yards off Avon Pier certainly falls under the heading of completely unexpected. But on Friday that is what was seen.

All indications are it was a juvenile whale, probably part of the annual migration of whales from northern waters to the waters off Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. In the warmer waters they give birth and feed in the shallow waters near shore.

Right whales are baleen feeders, straining water through the baleen plates in their mouths to feed on tiny crustaceans. 

An adult right whale will often reach 52’ in length and weigh in at 70 tons. They are known to live 70 years in the wild. 

The whale got its name—the right whale—because of its blubber and high oil yield The whale would also float after being harpooned and dying making it easier to harvest than other whales. Because it was the right whale to harvest, the species was almost hunted to extinction and by the 1890s there were no right whales to hunt. 

Although it is no longer hunted, its numbers do not seem to have recovered. According to marine biologists it’s unclear why the number of whales has not increased appreciatively.

There are two other species of the right whale. In the Northern Pacific Right Whale is as endangered as the Northern Atlantic whale. The Southern Right Whale, distributed across southern ocean waters has been more successful in recovering its numbers to historic populations.

The ocean is a fascinating place and worth a week or two to study. Be sure to make your Brindley Beach Vacations reservations for study time on the beach this summer.