Seriously injured right whale calf spotted off the coast of South Carolina, GA DNR urging caution

Boaters off the coast of Georgia, South Carolina and northeast Florida are being asked to report sightings of an injured North Atlantic right whale calf.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is asking that all boaters be on the lookout for an injured right whale calf.


The report came from anglers fishing off of South Carolina’s South Edisto River inlet when they spotted the young whale approaching their boat. The anglers were said to have gotten a close look at its injuries and that it was consistent with being hit by a boat propeller.

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The DNR said that researchers have confirmed that the injured calf belongs to Juno (right whale catalog no. 1612). Action News Jax reported that Juno and her then 2-week-olf calf were first spotted on Nov. 24 off the South Carolina coast. This was before an injury was ever seen or reported.

All boaters off the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and Northeast Florida are being asked to report sightings of the injured calf by calling 877-942-5341. Scientists and researchers are hoping they can better asses the injuries. Boaters must stay at least 500 yards from any right whale. This is the law!

Read: Two new right whale calves spotted off the coast of Florida New Year’s Eve

“DNR biologists said the calf’s injuries appear severe but they are not fresh,” the DNR said in a statement. “Images taken by the anglers show the wounds covered in cyamids, small crustaceans commonly found on whales that indicate the wound is at least a few days old.”

The DNR also said that vessel strikes, along with entanglement in commercial fishing gear, are one of the leading causes of death for North Atlantic right whales.

Here are some ways that the DNR said boaters can help:

  • When boating off Georgia’s coast from November to April, follow the guidelines for navigating in right whale waters (https://georgiawildlife.com/conservation/rightwhales). The website also includes recommendations for recreational boaters.
  • Slow down when boating where right whales are present. The Whale Alert app (https://www.whalealert.org) can help inform you if whales are possibly in the area.
  • Report sightings by calling 877-WHALE-HELP (877-942-5343) or by hailing the U.S. Coast Guard on marine VHF channel 16.
  • If you spot a whale, slow down further, operate at a slow speed, or put your engine in neutral. Assess the scene and slowly leave the area while keeping watch -- other whales could be nearby.
  • Stay at least 500 yards from any right whale you see (it’s the law) and never pursue or follow one.
  • Be wise stewards of Georgia’s natural resources and enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

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North Atlantic right whales are considered some of the most endangered large whales on the planet. It’s estimated that there are only 350 left.

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Joshua Jacobs, Action News Jax

Joshua Jacobs is a Content Creator/Coordinator for Action News Jax.

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