Heroes of the Week: The Team Trying To Save An Injured Right Whale Calf

Photo: NOAA Fisheries Facebook

Baby North Atlantic Right Whales are sadly rare — this species of whales is on the brink of extinction with the death rate exceeding the birth rate — the population is now hovering at about 400.  In early January, local scientists off the coast of Georgia were encouraged to spot 27-year-old female Derecha with a new calf.  But that hope turned to despair when they realized a few days later that the baby had been badly injured apparently by a ship strike. Enter our heroes — a team of whale experts from the federal government, including the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Navy, as well as FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the Wildlife Resources Division – Georgia DNRClearwater Marine AquariumSeaWorldBlue World Research Institute and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and other experts from around the country who worked together to assess and tend to the baby’s injuries and are now monitoring it.

Last weekend, with the help of photos from an aerial support team, the on-site veterinarian determined that antibiotics might be able to help the baby whale. The team then got close enough to the pair to administer the drugs to the baby in the hope that they would prevent its wounds from becoming infected.  Now we just have to hope it recovers even as the biologists say its prognosis is poor.  They will continue to monitor the mother and calf from the air.  This type of cooperation between experts from the government and private partners across the country is exactly what we will need to conserve species that are increasingly at risk because of the actions of humans.  

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