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Right Whale Alert: Mother and Calf
Off Flagler Coast Today

| January 18, 2011

A right whale in Florida waters. Right whales have patches of rough skin on their head called callosity. The callosity pattern is unique to each individual whale (like fingerprints are to humans) and looks white because it is covered by thousands of small, light-colored, crab-like creatures called “whale lice.” The whale lice do not harm the whale and can only grip onto the rough callosity. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

A right whale in Florida waters. Right whales have patches of rough skin on their head called callosity. The callosity pattern is unique to each individual whale (like fingerprints are to humans) and looks white because it is covered by thousands of small, light-colored, crab-like creatures called “whale lice.” The whale lice do not harm the whale and can only grip onto the rough callosity. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Whale watcher Christine Sullivan is reporting a right whale sighting this morning–a mother whale and her calf, gliding slowly down the Flagler County coast. Before midday, they were off the coast at Jungle Hut Road in the Hammock, which leads to an easily accessible public beach with parking.

The pair is heading south, but slowly, so they’ll likely be seen all along the coast, including Flagler Beach this afternoon. They’re close enough to shore that they can be seen with the naked eye, but “if you have binoculars, that’s a great thing to bring,” Sullivan suggests.

What to look for? “It’s almost like seeing dolphins—a black shape will appear to break the surface of the water. They can be under water for a couple of minutes before you see them again.” Look for their fluke, too–the top of their v-shaped tail. And the giveaway: When they breathe, they send off a spout of water in a v-shape.

Sightings may be reported to the Marine Resources Council at 888/979-4253.

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