First Right Whale Calf of the Season Spotted in Cape Cod Bay

Right whale #3520, Millipede, photographed in Cape Cod Bay with her 2021 calf by the Center for Coastal Studies Right Whale Aerial Survey team on 3/3/21. CCS, NOAA permit #19315-1

PROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies aerial surveillance team recently spotted the first North Atlantic right whale mother and calf pair of the 2021 season in Cape Cod Bay.

The mother whale has been previously documented and is nicknamed Millipede, owing to markings across her head inflicted by a vessel collision earlier in her life. 

Her calf is estimated to be three months old. 

“It was a very important sighting, it was the first calf of the year,” said Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo, Director of the North Atlantic Right Whale Ecology Program.

“Cape Cod Bay is a nursery ground, a stopping point for migrating mothers and calves. And lo and behold, earlier than in any previous year, Millipede brought its newborn calf into the area.”

Mayo said that the Cape Cod Bay is a carefully managed and protected area in order to help preserve the critically endangered marine animal. 

Right whales are estimated to only number around 360 individuals.

“The whales have made this long and very perilous trip up the east coast, and they’re now in safe waters here in Cape Cod Bay.” 

Millipede and her calf were among 57 total right whales spotted in Cape Cod Bay, bringing the total number of individuals spotted so far this season to over 100.

Though the state has taken action to protect the endangered animal, the whales are still vulnerable to fishing gear entanglement or ship strikes.

The Center for Coastal Studies said that of the 17 documented North Atlantic right whale calves born this season, three are already known or assumed to have died.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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