North Atlantic Right Whales

The North Atlantic right whale season is November through March around the Florida-Georgia border. Adult females of this endangered species give birth off this region’s shores and nurse their calves.

There’s recent good news about sightings of right whales. The beginning of the 2018/2019 winter calving season is off to a far better start than last year. The winter 2017/2018 was quite concerning. Not a single right whale calf was spotted last year.

Also, it’s been announced that Fernandina Beach will be the venue of the Right Whale Festival in November 2019.

Want to learn how to spot one of the rarest whales on the planet? Attend free training sessions on Amelia Island during January 2019 (venues/dates listed further below).

Good News

Two adult whales were recently spotted off Georgia, followed by the very first calf sighting here in the First Coast area.

According to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the first North Atlantic right whale calf of the 2018-2019 season was spotted with its mother on December 28, 2018. It was sighted near the St. Johns River entrance, “slowly moving north.” They indicated that the calf’s mother (Catalog #2791), had just been spotted five days prior off Georgia.

Right Whale Training

Want to be a whale monitor? During January 2019, here on Amelia Island, there’s opportunity to learn more about the North Atlantic right whale and volunteer to help spot whales. According to the Amelia Island Right Whale Action Group, “full and part-time residents are invited to attend a free and informative training session on how to spot and report sightings of North Atlantic right whales from the beach or from the comfort of their beachfront homes.”

Two free sessions are scheduled, featuring the coordinator of the Marine Resources Council’s North Atlantic Right Whale Program. Julie Albert conducts public education classes and operates the toll-free Right Whale Sightings Hotline 1-888-979-4253. The two venues and dates are:

— Tuesday, January 22, 2019 (4 to 6 pm) — Omni Conference Center (park at Verandah Restaurant).
— Wednesday, January 23,2019 (10 am to noon) — Fernandina Beach City Hall Chamber Room.

The “ideal” whale spotters are those living along the seaside in upper floors of condos and villas with elevated view of the ocean.

November 2019 Right Whale Festival

Fernandina Beach will be the venue of this year’s regional event, the 11th Annual Right Whale Festival, happening Saturday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 at Main Beach Park. Co-hosts of the annual Festival include the Sea to Shore Alliance and NOAA Fisheries.

According to a news release by NOAA, “The Right Whale Festival celebrates the annual return of endangered North Atlantic right whales to the warm coastal water off northeast Florida and Georgia, where they give birth to and nurse their young. This family-fun event raises awareness of the threats to right whales and how to aid in their recovery. The festival highlights local efforts to protect these whales from extinction as well as ocean-themed activities and exhibits that emphasize education and environmentally responsible adventures and products.”

Shell Art At Main Beach

Wonderful Shell Art Project At Fernandina's Main Beach
Wonderful Shell Art Project At Fernandina’s Main Beach

Helping to raise public awareness, Lauri De Garis, members of the Amelia Island Right Whale Action Group plus volunteers created a wonderful, life-sized shell art project (pictured above) in the sand at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park on November 24, 2018. The huge design of a mother right whale with calf, was dubbed “Amelia and Little Talbot.”

Amelia Island Living eMagazine has published previous articles about right whales. Learn more by reading, “Where Are The Right Whales? No Sightings in SE Atlantic,” published last year in January 2018.)