Friday, December 01, 2006

Fundy whales have Georgia on their minds

I always knew that the Bay of Fundy's northern right whales headed south for the winter, but I've only recently thought about where exactly they go.

Whale1I've discovered they're on their way to a 25 mile wide swath of ocean that lies between Brunswick, (north of St. Simons Island), Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida. These coastal waters are the only known calving grounds of this highly endangered species of whale – an estimated 300 – 350 whales remain.

Seasonal movements are still poorly understood but, generally, they move between rich summer/fall feeding grounds (Bay of Fundy) and warm winter calving grounds. During November and December right whales almost disappear with a few scattered reports coming from far flung areas such as Jeffreys Ledge off Northern Massachusetts and offshore of Cape May, New Jersey. By late winter and early spring, two distinct groups appear: calving females off southern Georgia/northern Florida and non-calving whales feeding off the Massachusetts coast (Cape Cod Bay, Great South Channel and Nantucket Sound).

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