Barbara's Blog


The North Atlantic Right Whales' Calving in Northeast Florida

The North Atlantic Right Whale-‘tis the season for birth in Northeast Florida off the coast of St. Augustine, FL.

On 11/10/09 at the Scenic & Historic A1A Corridor Management Council meeting at the St. Augustine Library, Joy Hampp with the Marineland Right Whale Project gave an insightful presentation on the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

As a Right Whale volunteer in years past and having reported spotting Right Whales in St. Augustine and Vilano Beach, I enjoyed her presentation. The Marineland Right Whale Project works along the coastline from the St. Augustine to Ponce Inlets - a distance of about 50 nautical miles. The project began in 2001 and includes about 200 volunteers.

Joy shared many interesting facts:

How big are Right Whales?

 Adults: 45-55 ft.Right Whales

            30-60 tons


Calves: 15 ft at birth!

             1 ton


Population: originally there were 50,000 to 100,000.

             In 1935 less than 100 were left

             Today it is estimated that there are 350-400


The calving season to see Right Whales in the St. Augustine area:

            Mid December to end of March

North Atlantic Right Whales come to our area (northeast Florida) to calf and nurse. This is the only place in the U.S. where this occurs. Only 1/3 of the population comes to our area---predominantly adult females. Some calves and some males come as well.


2004 16
2005 28
2006 19
2007 23
2008 23
2009 39

 Please stay at least 500 yards from any whale.

Why are they called Right Whales? They are called right whales because whalers found the whales to be the "right" whales to hunt. Whalers liked catching right whales because they are big, slow, and float when they are killed. Right whales were heavily whaled for many years. Commercial hunting stopped in 1935 after an incident in St. Augustine, FL. They are an endangered species.

3 main ways to identify a Right Whale:

1)      Callosities - white spots on head

2)      No dorsal fin

3)      V-shaped blow

The callosities form a unique pattern on every right whale. There are like a fingerprint and are used to help identify each whale.

A plane is flown every day over our section of ocean during the season to spot Right Whales and to notify Right Whale Sightingsvessels in the area of their location. Joy Hampp is one of the pilots. Joy reported that there is a new federal law requiring ships over 65' to travel at less than 10 kts/hour from November 15- April 15 in the North Atlantic Right Whale Critical Habitat & Calving Ground (the area in Georgia and northeast Florida). Here's the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog.

If you see at Right Whale, please call
1-888-979-4253 and have the following information handy:

  • Location of whale(s)
  • Number of whales; any calves?
  • Direction whale(s) are traveling
  • Dolphins present?
  • Your name and a callback number.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer you can reach Joy Hampp at

Joy Hampp, Project Coordinator
Marineland Right Whale Project
GTM-NERR Science Center
9741 Ocean Shore Blvd.
Marineland, FL 32080-8613

Barbara Jenness takes joy in assisting people in buying or selling their home or land in northeast Florida (St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra,  and Jacksonville). She is a community activist and leader serving as President of Friends of A1A 2008-2010, Past President of Scenic & Historic A1A in St. Johns County for over 10 years, and past vice-president of Vilano Beach Main Street (North Shores Improvement Association). She is a past president for WCR in St. Augustine and a member of South Ponte Vedra Civic Association, Porpoise Point, Serenata Beach Club, and Palencia. She founded and is a Past President of the St. Augustine Regional Council (StAR Council) to promote the St. Augustine area to individuals outside the region.

Awards: REALTOR of the Year, Businesswoman of the Year, SPIRIT Award Passion, Five-Star Best in Client Satisfaction-7 Years Winner

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Comment balloon 1 commentBarbara Jenness • November 10 2009 12:57PM


Very cool.  I had no idea, and I live in Jensen Beach, Florida

Posted by Alexandria Virginia, Real Estate Editor (Featuring Susan Craft, CRS, REALTOR® - McEnearney Associates) over 9 years ago