North Atlantic right whale calf seen playing with seaweed

Even animals that live in the ocean find ways to have fun

North Atlantic right whale calf seen playing with seaweed
North Atlantic right whale plays with seaweed in Cape Cod Bay. (Source: Center for Coastal Studies Right Whale Ecology Program)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - When you’re a young whale exploring the ocean, you have to find ways to keep yourself entertained.

A right whale calf was seen in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts playing with seaweed during an aerial survey of right whales by the Center for Coastal Studies this past week (photos taken under NOAA permit #19315-1).

North Atlantic right whale plays with seaweed in Cape Cod Bay.
North Atlantic right whale plays with seaweed in Cape Cod Bay. (Source: Center for Coastal Studies Right Whale Ecology Program)

Moments later, the calf was photographed with the seaweed on its back.

A right whale calf plays with seaweed in Cape Cod Bay.
A right whale calf plays with seaweed in Cape Cod Bay. (Source: Center for Coastal Studies Right Whale Ecology Program)

The right whale calf (the offspring of right whale #3520, nicknamed Millipede) was first seen off Vilano Beach, Florida.

This calf has already made a successful migration with her mom from the coast of Florida to the coast of Massachusetts. The calf is one of 17 right whale calves born in 2021.

These critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have been on decline in recent years due to entanglements with fishing gear and collisions with boats. Their numbers have dropped from an estimated 483 whales in 2010 to an estimated 366 today.

These whales have been migrating to new areas to find food in recent years, which is likely due to climate change and the warming oceans. Because the whales are now showing up in new locations where there may not be any protections for the whales (in terms of fishing restrictions and/or speed restrictions on boats), that’s leading to more whale deaths.

An unusual mortality event was declared in 2017, and from 2017 to 2021 at least 34 right whales have died and another 15 are seriously injured (likely to die of their injuries).

People are required by federal law to stay at least 500 yards away from right whales (that includes boats, planes, and drones).

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