Critically Endangered Baby Whales Spotted Off The Coast Of Quebec For The First Time In Years

The "right whale is one of the world’s most endangered" whale species, according to the NOAA.
Critically Endangered Baby Whales Spotted Off The Coast Of Quebec For The First Time In Years

According to the CBC and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, baby right whales have been spotted in Canadian waters for the first time in two years. 7 calves accompanied their parents into the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the coast of Quebec.

This news comes after years of population decline. "No new calves were spotted" in 2018 and, in 2017, the administration "confirmed 17 North Atlantic right whale deaths — about 4 percent of their population," according to a report.

The whales have arrived in Canada after travelling up the United States East Coast for the last few months. Several of the new calves were initially spotted in Florida. The NOAA has mapped the whales' journey on its website.

"The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, with only an estimated 450 remaining," says the NOAA. "By the early 1890s, commercial whalers had hunted right whales in the Atlantic to the brink of extinction."

NOAA Fisheries/Leah Crowe

"Whaling is no longer a threat, but human interactions still present the greatest danger to this species. The leading causes of known mortality for North Atlantic right whales are entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes."

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But though this latest calf sighting is promising and "the North Atlantic right whale population has increased" since "recovery efforts" began, a recent population "decline and the large number of recent mortalities are a serious concern," the NOAA writes.

"We still have a long way to go to recover this species."

Canadians who spot a right whale can report the sighting to the NOAA here. They are distinguishable by their black bodies, notched tails, and "characteristic" raised "patches of rough skin, called callosities."

The arrival of baby right whale calves in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the very least offers hope for the future of the species. You can read more abour right whales on the NOAA website here.

Learn more about the latest calf sightings with the CBC here.