Whale calving season advisory for Southeast coast

Flickr user Liam Q

There are only 360 North Atlantic right whales that are known to exist making them one of the most endangered whales in the world. Every year from November until April, they migrate over a 1000 miles to our warm waters to give birth to their calves.

“Right whales are dark with no dorsal fin and they often swim slowly at or just below the water’s surface,” said Barb Zoodsma, NOAA Fisheries Service’s southeast right whale recovery program coordinator. “Many mariners mistakenly assume that because of their large size, right whales would be easy to see, but often a slight difference in texture on the water’s surface is the only clue that a whale is present.

The right whale can weigh up to 70 tons and measure over 50 feet in length. Read more about the right whale here. If you see a right whale out on the water, it may be tempting to get a closer look. But approach with extreme caution and don't get too close.

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Federal law prohibits approaching or remaining within 500 yards of right whales, either by watercraft or aircraft. Federal law also requires vessels 65 feet long and greater to slow to 10 knots or less in Seasonal Management Areas along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. More information is here. 

Right Whale Identification

  • Black to dark-grey skin  sometimes with white splotches on belly or neck. 
  • Large white bumps on the head called callosities. 
  • Black, paddle-shaped, short, stubby flippers.
  • Black, deeply notched, triangular tail. 
  • No dorsal fin on its back. 
  • V-shaped blow from blowhole when whale exhales, which is visible only when positioned directly in front of the whale or directly behind.

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