This week saw a season high for the number of endangered North Atlantic right whales spotted in Cape Cod Bay, including two new-of-the-year calves. It's the second-largest reported aggregation, behind only last year.
An aerial survey team from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown has been flying regularly since early January looking for these whales as they return to the Bay. This week the researchers identified 73 of the rare whales. The entire population is believed to number just over 500.
Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo, of the Center, said researchers are hopeful that the numbers in the Bay may increase in the coming weeks.
The whales are believed to return to Cape Cod Bay each year, beginning in January, to feed on plankton.
"Cape Cod Bay is now really the hot spot for right whales in the North Atlantic Ocean," Mayo said.
The two calves are among three new-of-year right whale calves identified already off the coast of Florida and Georgia. They have arrived in Cape Cod Bay after making a roughly 800-mile journey. Mayo characterized the journey as coming "through a perilous area of high ship traffic, to come into relatively protected Cape Cod Bay."
One of these calves is born from a mother who’s known to researchers as Pediddle. She is one of the oldest identified mothers of the species. It's believe to be her eighth calf, making her one of the most productive.
Mayo discusses this week's sightings, and suggests spots for whale watching from the beach, in the interview posted above. Give it a listen.