Amelia Island’s Annual Right Whale Festival highlights critical situation of “local” endangered species

Media Release
November 3, 2021



Event Signals Return of Right Whales to Amelia Island’s Coast for Calving Season


AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2021) – The annual Right Whale Festival will return to Amelia Island, Florida, Nov. 6-7, to highlight the critical state of North Atlantic right whales and local efforts to protect the species from extinction. The free family-friendly event also celebrates the return of the whales to Amelia Island’s coast as calving season begins. Festival guests can enjoy ocean-themed activities and educational exhibits, live music, food trucks, art and crafts, water recreation displays and more while learning about the endangered right whale.

Right Whale off Amelia Island. Photo by Pam Bell.

“On Monday, Oct. 25, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium announced that the North Atlantic right whale population declined last year to just 336, which is an 8% decrease from 2019 and the lowest population estimate for the species in nearly 20 years,” said Gil Langley, president of the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The annual festival is an engaging way for families to learn firsthand about ways to spot whales off our coastline and help save this species in decline.”

North Atlantic right whales are one of the world’s most endangered large whale species. Calving season begins mid-November and runs through mid-April. Each year, right whales return to their only known calving grounds along the warm coastal waters off northeast Florida and Georgia, giving Amelia Island locals and visitors a chance to catch sight of mothers and calves just offshore. The species is at a critical point and organizers of the Right Whale Festival hope the event inspires people to get involved.

NOAA Fisheries and other dedicated partners moved the Annual Right Whale Festival to its home at Main Beach in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island in 2019 when the last event was held. As in past years, the festival will feature a variety of diverse exhibitors focused on marine conservation and education. Highlights of the two-day festival include:

  • Life-Size Inflatable Whales: See a right whale mother and calf up close! These life-size models will give you an idea of their incredible size; you can even walk inside the adult right whale and learn about its biology. Additionally, a model of the newly discovered Rice’s whale will be on display.
  • Lecture Tent: Throughout the day, attendees can visit the lecture tent to learn about right whales and other marine mammals directly from biologists who work so hard to protect them. Southeast U.S. Marine mammal researchers and conservation group representatives will also be available during the event to answer questions and educate the public on the right whales.
  • Right Whale Pale Ale & Beer Truck: New this year, visitors can enjoy rolling refreshment with a keg truck featuring beers by Mocama Beer Company. Additionally, they can purchase a four pack of Right Whale Festival Pale Ale sold to-go. Beer sale proceeds benefit the festival.
  • Festival T-shirts: The festival’s colorful, uniquely designed t-shirts for men, women and children have become collectors’ items and sell out early every year. This year’s shirt and poster design was created by C. Waynette Traub, a graphic designer who lives on Fort George Island and is a long-time festival volunteer and supporter.

The Right Whale Festival has worked hard to create a safe environment for all participants. Attendees are encouraged to maintain social distancing, sanitize their hands regularly, and stay home if feeling sick. There will be increased space between exhibitors, reduced touch points, and hand sanitizing stations available. Social distancing should be observed. Masks are recommended, kindness is mandatory.  The Right Whale festival partners include NOAA Fisheries, Amelia Island Convention & Visitors

Bureau, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, as well as dedicated sponsors SeaWorld, Wild Amelia and Jaxport.

For more information and a schedule of activities, visit RightWhaleFestival.com.




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