2014 Florida Volunteer Updates

As the North Atlantic right whales migrate to the South Georgia/Northern Florida coast each winter volunteers help watch for and capture critical details related to this endangered species. This information helps scientists track the fate of the species and acts as a first alert system to pilots in the shipping lanes to avoid accidental killings. This blog shares the findings, photos and other pertinent information gathered from the Palm Coast Sector Volunteer Team while helping to connect and communicate the many ways we can protect the right whales and sustain our wonderful ocean life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Newspaper Article - Right Whales Have Arrived!

Right whale sightings prompt kickoff of volunteer monitoring
Environment Writer
The endangered North Atlantic right whales have arrived at their winter calving grounds off the coasts of Florida and Georgia. That means a volunteer effort to monitor the whales has moved into high gear.
Local training seminars are planned later this month throughout the area, said Julie Albert, with the Marine Resource Council's Northern Right Whale Monitoring Program.
Whale spotters along the coast keep an eye out to relay critical whale-sighting information to scientists. Marine mammal scientists track new
and alert ships to whale sightings to try to prevent collisions that prove deadly to the whales.

Such boat collisions are one of the leading causes of death among the whales, which scientists believe number fewer than 400. The whales were once hunted almost to extinction, before the International Whaling Commission banned the practice in 1949.
No whales have been seen yet off the Volusia or Flagler coast this winter, but whale experts say it's only a matter of time. A right whale was seen Friday in Juno Beach, off the South Florida coast. That means the whales are definitely in the area, said Katie Jackson with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Right Whale Project.
The whales begin arriving from their summer feeding grounds in the Bay of Fundy each year in December. They'll remain in the area until March or April. So far this year, six mother and calf pairs and 25 additional whales have been spotted off southern Georgia and northeastern Florida, Jackson said.
On Thursday, the whale surveyors spotted a nine-year-old female right whale with her first calf. The marine council's whale monitoring program has operated since 1995 and coordinates a volunteer sighting network with more than 700 volunteers. The council has collaborated with Marineland's Right Whale Project for the past nine years.
While volunteers are trained to identify whales and report sightings, anyone can call the hot line at 888-979-4253 (888-97-WHALE) to report a whale sighting. Sightings are verified and passed to commercial and military ships.
Right whales are identified by the rough, white patches of skin on their heads called callosities. They have v-shaped blows and often can be seen very close to shore.
It is illegal to be within 500 yards of a right whale.
To volunteer between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, contact Marineland at marinelandrightwhale@gmail.com or 904-461-4058. To volunteer south of Daytona Beach or for additional information, call the right whalehot line.
Locally, another training class is planned on Jan. 10 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the New Smyrna Beach Library, 1001 S. Dixie Freeway.
A two-hour survey orientation meeting for already trained volunteers is scheduled to take place Sunday at 3 p.m. at Whitney Hall, Whitney Labor for Marine Bioscience, 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd., Marineland.

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