ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute captured a photo of a right whale with her calf.
The right whale Catalog #1970 ‘Palmetto’ and the newborn calf were sighted between Dec. 8-9, according to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Officials say the whales were near Port Royal Sound in southern South Carolina. Palmetto is 35-year-old and this is her 6th calf, according to researchers.
Officials say the pair were reported by a boater and U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command.
Researchers urge boaters to slow down, keep a lookout, and not to approach or pursue right whales if they are spotted.
Reproduction is important for the recovery of the species and vessel strikes can be lethal to right whales, according to officials.
According to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute there are about 70 reproductively active females in the North Atlantic right whale population.
Experts say disturbances can disrupt critical behaviors, like nursing, during calving season.
The FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute says female right whales have the potential to give birth and raise a calf every three years.
Officials ask anyone who spots right whales to report sightings to 877-WHALE-HELP (877-942-5343) or to the USCG on VHF Ch 16 in real-time.
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