In early 2020 Right Whale sightings were reported along the northeastern coast of Florida apparently this year the whales are taking their young further south…
Right Whale with Calf Travels past the House of Refuge, Martin County (NMFS/NOAA permit No. #19674 by Jim Moir)
Today’s photos may be the most wonderful I have ever had the privilege to share. Researcher, Jim Moir, for years has told me stories about his experiences at sea untangling and assisting the most critically endangered whale species on Earth, the North Atlantic Right Whale. Named the Right Whale because for yesteryears’ whaling industry, they were the “right” species to kill; they remain on the brink of extinction today with an estimated 400 remaining, visiting Florida’s waters usually north of Cape Canaveral, only to bear their young.
A a recent Rivers Coalition meeting Jim said “Hey Jacqui, I’ve got to show you something.” He took out his cell phone and showed me a photo of a mother Right Whale and Calf swimming past the House of Refuge in Martin County. My jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? ” I almost screamed. “Here in Martin County? I didn’t think they came down this far.” Jim just smiled.
I was completely blown away. What a picture!
Today, I along with others in the press share Jim’s photographs of these incredible mythical creatures living day-to-day, struggling for their lives in a changing world that you and I hold in our hands. In my conversations with Jim I came to understand that perhaps we all must modify our behaviors and attitudes if these great creatures are to avoid extinction. Plastics, boat collisions, human harassment, and how we treat our planet. Climate Change not only affects human food sources, the animals too.
I am including some of Jim and my exchange below. Thank you Jim Moir! What special pictures!
Hi Jacqui, I’ve got clearance to release some whale photos. I’m about to leave for St. Pete and I haven’t been able to process the photos in order to affix a watermark “taken under NMFS/NOAA permit No. #19674 under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.” I will release the photos to the media with that watermark. You’re right about needing to balance research protection and public information/education. One of the biggest local threats are curiosity seekers hoping for an interesting selfie or social media post and inadvertently harassing the animals. These are the most critically endangered great whale species they are 50 ton mommas nurturing their infant babies (2-4 ton babies) they are not feeding so unlike sea turtles or rays they are unlikely to signal schools of Cobia or other sport fishes. Boaters are legally prohibited from approaching closer than 500 yards. If the animals approach them or they accidentally get too close the should (if safe to do so) go engine off, and enjoy a memorable experience. Call FWC and MRC. Under no circumstances should anyone consider touching or swimming with these wild mothers and their infant calves a swipe of their tail or head on collision have been fatal. These animals are the size of semi tractor trailers. And incredibly powerful. They occasionally come this far south but usually stay north of Cape Canaveral. There are fewer than 400 of these animals left their problem is us, fishing gear entanglement and collisions with vessels killed more each year than are born extinction is a very real outcome Florida waters are the only known calving grounds. They eat coepepods in New England and Canada. There are 11 other species of whale and dolphins that live around Florida too. ~Jim
Jim thanks so much! I promise to be very careful, mindful, and respectful with how I post. I in no way would wish to endanger these very endangered species. I will be sure that the public knows how critically endangered the whales are and that they must be left alone to survive and successfully raise their claves. The permit for the photographs will be displayed. Thank you Jim ~Jacqui
Sign as displayed as Stuart Causeway along the Indian River Lagoon close to St Lucie Inlet.