Right Whales Migrate Down Florida East Coast

Florida Right Whale Map January 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Endangered right whales are migrating south along Florida’s east coast and were spotted near Daytona Beach, Florida on January 1, 2020.

From November 15 to April 15 each year, pregnant females migrate from their northern feeding grounds to the sheltered waters of the calving ground to give birth to their young off of the east coasts of Georgia and Florida.

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered large whales in the world, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Approximately 500 animals remain of the western North Atlantic population.

Whalers labeled these animals “right whales” because they considered them the “right” whales to hunt. They swam slowly in coastal waters, floated when dead, and yielded large amounts of oil and baleen.

A mother right whale and her calf off the Georgia coast.
A mother right whale and her calf off the Georgia coast. Credit: Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NOAA research permit # 15488

Right whales had been hunted to near extinction when hunting was finally banned in 1935.

Right whales lack a dorsal fin. Instead, they have a large, flat back. When right whales breathe they produce a V-shaped blow that is often as high as 15 feet and is visible from a great distance.

When Right Whales are active off Florida and Georgi a, speed restrictions of 10 knots apply to vessels 65 feet or greater in specific areas and times along the U.S. East Coast.

It is illegal to approach right whales within 500 yards, according to NOAA.