Savannah (AP) – Researchers say endangered North American right whales gave birth last winter to the fewest calves seen off the U.S. coast in 17 years.
Scientists estimate only about 500 of the rare whales still exist. Clay George is a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He said Wednesday that only three newborn calves were spotted this season in the waters off Georgia and Florida.
That’s the fewest since 2000, when only one birth was recorded. In an average year, scientists count about 17 newborns in the Atlantic waters off the Southeastern U.S. where right whales give birth.
Right whale researcher Philip Hamilton of the New England Aquarium in Boston says evidence in recent years has pointed to a potential food shortage for right whales, which could help explain the low births.