On Sunday, April 7 the Center for Coastal Studies right whale aerial survey team spotted their first right whale calf of the year in Cape Cod Bay. This sighting heralds the arrival of the 2019 calves to their feeding grounds here in the northeast.

Right whale #1204 with her 2019 calf in Cape Cod Bay on April 7. CCS image, NOAA permit #19315-1

The calf, which was first sighted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on January 17 in the calving grounds of the southeastern US, is the third of seven known mom-calf pairs of the season. Its mother is right whale #1204, a whale of at least 38 years of age that was first seen in 1982.  This is #1204’s ninth known calf; her first was documented in 1988, the most recent in 2013.  Out of the nine calves, this is only the second #1204 has been documented with in Cape Cod Bay.

Boaters, kayakers, paddle-boarders, swimmers and light aircraft and drone pilots are reminded that it is illegal to approach a North Atlantic right within 500 yards (1500 feet) without a Federal Research Permit. However, the right whales often feed very close to shore, offering whale watchers on land unbeatable views of one of the rarest of the marine mammals.

CCS right whale research and response operations are conducted in partnership with DMF and NOAA under federal permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Support also comes from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, CCS aviation contractor AvWatch, private foundations, and contributions from CCS members.

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