CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The first right whale mom and calf of the season were spotted recently off the coast of South Carolina.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shared a photo of the pair on Twitter.
Each winter, North Atlantic right whales travel from the waters off of Canada and New England to the southeast, where they give birth in the warm waters off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
North Atlantic right whales are one of the most rare marine mammals in the world, with an estimated population of 400 in 2020. They are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Protection Act, according to NOAA.
Boaters in the Lowcountry and along the east coast should stay alert during calving season, which runs from mid-November through mid-April.
Vessels, paddle boarders, and aircraft (including drones) are required by federal law to stay 500 yards away from right whales. Boats larger than 65 feet are required “to slow to speeds of 10 knots or less in Seasonal Management Areas.”