Mono (#1321) with her adorable 2014 calf.
Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA Research Permit #15488.
Nauvus (#2040) shows part of her head, with her one month-old calf at the surface.
Photo: Georgia DNR, taken under NOAA Research Permit #15488.
Three other females that have calved in previous years were seen in the area, but never with a calf. It is possible that they did calve but were simply missed afterwards. We'll be looking for these three up north to see if they have a young one in tow. There were also a few females who have likely reached reproductive age but have not calved previously. One of them, Caterpillar (#3503), had the right whale community concerned. She was named for a large propeller scar on her side that looks like the tracks from a Caterpillar tractor.
Caterpillar, with propeller wounds on her side. Photo: Heather Foley, New England Aquarium.
Although she has seemed in good health since she received the wound, we were concerned that if she were pregnant and her girth increasing, the wound could further open and become infected. This happened to the right whale Lucky (#2143), proving that even if a right whale survives the initial propeller wounds, those wounds can still cause problems later in life.Caterpillar was only seen once, so we are hoping she made a quick visit to the area and is safely feeding somewhere up north.
We wish this year's calves and their moms a safe migration and eagerly await their arrival on the feeding grounds. You can keep tabs on their progress by going to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center interactive sighting map- if you zoom in on the area near Cape Cod and see the symbol of a small fluke next to a larger fluke- you'll know the mom and calf pairs have arrived!