Two new North Atlantic right whale calves spotted off coast of Florida

Two new North Atlantic right whale calves spotted off coast of FloridaTwo new North Atlantic right whale calves have been spotted off the coast of Florida.The two calves were spotted next to their mothers on Jan. 24 and 25.This marks the fifth and sixth North Atlantic right whale calves spotted so far this year.Philip Hamilton, a research scientist with the New England Aquarium, said while any new birth is a positive, the numbers don't look good so far this year."We would hope for, and actually expect, at least 30 born this year," said Hamilton."Six is not what we're hoping for and certainly not what we need to recover the population. There've been about 30 deaths in the past three years and only 12 births."Hamilton said aerial search teams work to identify calves from December to March, and it's during this time they're most likely to first see a newborn.There are only about 400 known North Atlantic right whales in existence, with only 100 of those being females of mating age.Hamilton said there are still six females of mating age who have given birth in the past who haven't so far this year. He hopes these whales may eventually give birth.The calves' mothers, Harmony and Halo, have given birth before and Hamilton hopes they continue to do so."A really healthy right whale will give birth every three years," said Hamilton."In recent years that time between births has been increasing, because they don't seem to be getting quite enough food to put on weight quickly enough."Even with the new whale sightings, all the news hasn't been good.Last month a newborn whale was spotted with injuries consistent with being struck by a ship.While crews have treated the calf with antibiotics its prognosis remains poor."It's very unlikely that calf will be able to survive," said Hamilton."We think the damage to its mouth area is so severe that it actually may not be able to nurse

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