The first right whale mother and calf pair of the season was spotted in Cape Cod Bay on Wednesday.
A team from the Center for Coastal Studies documented Millipede and her 3-month-old calf. Scientists first saw the pair in early December off the northern coast of Florida, according to a statement from the center.
Researcher Brigid McKenna said scientists were not expecting to see a mother-calf pair off Cape Cod this early in the season.
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“Millipede is a common visitor to our waters, and in fact our most recent sighting of her prior to this was last March when she was presumably pregnant with this calf,” McKenna said. “Her 2021 calf appeared to be quite healthy and independent -- it spent more than 40 minutes far from its mother, which is something we do not see often at this age.”
Charles “Stormy” Mayo, director of the CCS Right Whale Ecology Program, said the calf "has beaten the odds" to reach Cape Cod as threats to these endangered whales in the ocean are increasing.
Per the Center for Coastal Studies, there have been 34 recorded right whale deaths since 2017. Of the 17 calves born this season, three have reportedly died. Most died due to being entangled by ropes or fishing gear or being struck by a ship.