For the mother, giving birth to her 13-16 ft calf of 1,540-2,200 lbs is just the first step. Being born in the relatively warm waters of the Southeast US allows the calf to be comfortable while nursing itself into a blubbery babe, but there's no food in those waters for the adults. Mom will fast for months as her layer of fat sustains her while she nurses her offspring. Once the calf is large enough and waters warm with the spring season, mom will lead the calf northward along the east coast. This journey must be stressful for both, as young whales are susceptible to vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Miraculously, these pairs will reach the spring feeding grounds in the Northeast, where mom will start to replenish her blubber store. By the time the calf is fully weaned, she will have nursed for nearly 11 months and watched her calf grow into a 29-33 ft whale weighing 26,400 lbs or more. Mom will take at least one year to regain enough fat before even thinking about mating again!
|Equator and her 2013 calf in Cape Cod Bay. Photo: Amy Knowlton|
During this 2013-2014 calving season, ten mom and calf pairs were sighted! A few of them have been seen in New England waters already, and we hope to find some in the Bay of Fundy during our surveys this summer. The money raised by our sponsorship program helps fund our surveys and research, so if you're looking for a gift for your Mom this Mother's Day, consider a right whale sponsorship! Phoenix (Catalog #1705), Calvin (Catalog #2223) and Piper (Catalog #2320) are whales in our sponsorship program who have all successfully raised calves. Honor your mom with a gift that honors a mother of a different species! You will be helping to support the research and conservation efforts that attempt to make right whale mothers' jobs as easy as they can be in this urban ocean.
Click here to sponsor a right whale for Mother's Day!