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Right whale often seen in Cape Cod Bay spotted with newborn calf

Right whale calves seen swimming with mothers
Right whale calves seen swimming with mothers 00:17

KURE BEACH, N.C. - An endangered North Atlantic right whale that's been frequently sighted in Cape Cod Bay was recently seen swimming with her new calf down south.

"Skittle" and her calf were spotted east of Kure Beach in North Carolina on Feb. 16. Skittle is often seen swimming in Cape Cod Bay in March.

It's believed Skittle is at least 23 years old and gave birth to her first calf in 2010, but that calf likely did not survive. The New England Aquarium explains that Skittle gets her name from her skin pattern that resembles a bowling pin used in the British sport of Skittles. 

Right whales are critically endangered

The aquarium says 19 mother-calf pairs have been counted this season. But there is also discouraging news about the species, with fewer than 360 whales estimated to be left in the wild.

Two young right whales were found dead to start the year. One born in 2021 washed up on Martha's Vineyard in January, and scientists have determined it got caught in fishing gear from Maine. And a 1-year-old was found dead off the coast of Georgia in February, scavenged by sharks

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that another calf, severely injured in a vessel strike, was still alive as of last week but there are concerns about its long-term health. 

Boat strikes, fishing gear entanglement and climate change are cited by scientists as the biggest threats facing the right whale population. 

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