Whale Calves 7, 8 and 9 Grace Our Waters

By Lauri deGaris

Whale blessings keep right on coming … right whale calves nos. 7, 8 and 9 have been born. Swerve #1810 gave birth to the first calf in 2024 on January 3, 4.5 miles off Altamaha Sound, Georgia. Legato (#1802) and her newborn calf were spotted 16 miles offshore Amelia Island on December 31. Right whale #3780 (unnamed) was spotted 25 miles east of the St. Marys River. There are several adult right whales in the region without calves. We may very well have more birth announcements soon to follow.

Swerve is at least 36 years old and has five previous calves and two grand calves. Her family has been involved in 11 entanglements over the years. Researchers are mystified by Swerve’s sighting history. She is rarely sighted in the northern feeding grounds with other whales. She has two minor entanglements leading researchers to believe she has found a relatively safe place to feed.

Legato (#1802) is 36 years old. This is her fifth calf. Legato’s last calf was born in 2011. Twelve years is a long time between calving and could be an indication of past health issues. Legato and her family have been entangled a combined number of 27 times. They have encountered three vessel strikes as well. Legato’s mother, Staccato, was killed by a vessel strike in 1999. Two of Legato’s calves have died from entanglement injuries. Legato’s two most recent calves have been spotted regularly. Everyone is hopeful they enjoy a long, reproductive life.

Right whale #3780, yet to be named, is a first-time mother. She is at least 17 years old. No. 3780 has been observed as far north as the Bay of Fundy. She has traveled here to the Southeast as well. However, most of her time is spent in New England waters. We know that #3780 has encountered one entanglement in her lifetime, which was minor. She has managed to steer clear of other human-related injuries in the 17 years she has been observed. Let us hope her newborn calf inherits these same skills.

Aerial surveillance teams report all right whale mom and calf pairs are too far offshore for us to see them from the beach. But I know that at any time a mom and calf pair may float close enough to shore for us to observe. Don’t give up–persistence pays off when looking for whales.

If you spot a whale call 877-WHALE-HELP (877-942-5343) or call the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16. Please have the following information ready: location of whale(s); city, lat/long, nearby landmark; number of whales; direction traveling; are dolphins and birds present; your name and a callback number. Remember to remain at least 500 yards from right whales.

Welcome to our newest relations under the waves, right whale calves nos. 7, 8 and 9. May you enjoy a long and healthy life. And, may you have many calves of your own!

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Mark Tomes
Noble Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 month ago

This is great news! And very interesting to hear that some whales may be finding safe places to feed without the constant threat of entanglements and vessel strikes.