By Lauri deGaris
April 19 marked the end of the 2022-2023 right whale calving season. To celebrate the arrival of these precious and rare whales, Amelia Island Whale Ambassadors threw a “Whale Baby Shower” at the Florida House Inn Wednesday evening. More than 75 whale lovers united to celebrate.
Officially, 11 calves were born this season. Several of those births set records. Spindle at age 41, broke a record by giving birth to her 10th calf. That is more than any other documented right whale. Pediddle, who is at least 45 years old, gave birth to her ninth documented calf. Pediddle and two of her descendants are the only ones in her genetic line still alive.
At least five yearlings, born last year, returned to the calving grounds without their mothers this season. Another three are thought to have been sighted here as well, but verification is still underway.
Two male right whales were entangled this year. Nimbus was one of the lucky ones. He was disentangled off Cumberland Island. Since then, he has been sighted around Martha’s Vineyard completely rope free. Argo went through the disentanglement process and had 175 feet of rope and a lobster trap from Canada removed so he could swim free once more. One female right whale was seen severely entangled and has not been sighted again.
An estimated 80 of the remaining 352 whales have been seen feeding in Cape Cod Bay in the past few weeks. The Cape Cod Canal has been closed as right whales have been observed traveling through the area. Several of this year’s mom and calf pairs born off our coast have been sighted in Cape Cod Bay.
Fernandina Beach Mayor Bradley Bean made an appearance at the whale baby shower and announced that the city of Fernandina would once again recognize November 2023 as Right Whale Month. Mayor Bean said he had been to a lot of baby showers, but this was the first one for whales.
Greg Wiley with the International Fund for Animal Welfare was at the shower. A video team of students from UNF was in attendance, as well. They were on hand to video the event for their upcoming film about right whales.
Several local companies were acknowledged for their contributions to the shower. They include Bliss Bakery, Color Me Green, Highland Bank, Redbones Dog Bakery and the Florida House Inn.
What would a baby shower be without a few games and prizes? Several attendees went home with original art, hats, coffee mugs and other right whale memorabilia. A great time was had by all.
Thank you, Amelia Island Whale Ambassadors for a lovely event. And, thank you for all the work you do to protect North Atlantic whales.
To honor the birth of this season’s right whales, I offer …
Welcome to the world, beautiful baby whale.
May the magnetic fields of Mother Earth guide and protect you as you swim through life.
May your journey find courtship and love for a new generation to sing the song of the whale.
May we all remember we all are equal in the arms of Mother Earth.
With love and gratitude for all whales,
I offer this blessing, especially for you, baby whale.
Light a candle in honor of all whales and offer them a prayer. Sing a lullaby for newborn whales. Send positive vibes to those working to clean our oceans and protect all whales. And, continue to light the way for others to see the importance of our work as ambassadors of whales and Mother Earth.