Right whales spotted off Florida coast

Posted at 9:15 AM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-15 09:15:23-05

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. (AP) -- Florida wildlife officials say two rare North Atlantic right whales were spotted off of the state's northeastern coast.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's aerial survey team reported seeing the whale and her calf near Ponte Vedra last week.

Marineland's right whale project program coordinator Joy Hampp says the endangered whale's calving season begins in December and lasts through March.

The whales, which usually prefer colder, northern waters, come to the warmer seas off of Florida and southern Georgia to give birth.

Hampp tells The Florida Times-Union that the North Atlantic right whales' population has grown 2 percent in the last 15 years.

Hampp says there are about 500 right whales left and that ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear have contributed to the species' struggles.