New England Aquarium researchers claim that an Embattled right whale was seen with a new calf off the coast of South Carolina
According to scientists at the New England Aquarium, a troubled right whale named Slalom who has six times been caught in fishing gear was spotted swimming off the coast of South Carolina with a new calf in tow last week, marking the first time she has given birth in 11 years.
The calf, her sixth, was a welcome sight to the researchers, who closely document the critically endangered species' dropping population. The aquarium estimates that only 336 right whales remain, dropping by a quarter over the last decade, according to a statement.
The pair was spotted by a team of researchers east of Pawleys Island in South Carolina on Nov. 24, and the New England Aquarium Right Whale Research team confirmed Slalom's identity.
In the statement, Philip Hamilton, a senior scientist at the aquarium's Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, stated: "We hope this calf survives the numerous dangers that right whales face on a daily basis and develops a fascinating tale of its own."
Slalom and her family are remarkable examples of resilience: one of her calves, Mogul, swam to Iceland one year before heading to the waters off France and Newfoundland the next year, traversing over 11,000 miles.
Slalom's mother, Pilgrim, married another of her calves in January 2013 off the coast of Cape Cod and is considered the only known right whale to give birth in northern waters in the dead of winter. Slalom's brother, Shackleton, swam 100 miles up the Delaware River, an extremely rare event. In January 2013, Slalom's mother had another of her calves, Pilgrim, off the coast of Cape Cod, and is considered
In the winter months, the creatures usually flock to the warmer waters of the south.
But, as far as her family has, she hasn't been so fortunate.
Two of her four grand-offspring feared died in their first year or two of life, with a third named Junction, propeller wounds on his back when he suffered two separate incidents. Her offspring and grand-offspring have faced 17 stranglements and two vessel strikes in total.
Slalom and her family are poster children for the issues that right whales face, but sadly, every family has such tales of harm done at the hands of humans, Hamilton stated in the statement.
Right whales have been spotted several times this year before giving birth, once over the summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off eastern Canada, and again south of Nantucket in October by an aerial survey crew. In recent years, right whales have travelled to southern New England waters in increased numbers.
Slalom's calf, according to a statement, is a positive indication.
Her narrative, along with numerous other right whales, is documented in the New England Aquarium's Right Whale Catalog.
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