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Two more endangered right whale calves spotted off Massachusetts coast

By
Brooks Hays
A North Atlantic right whale mom swims alongside her calf off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Photo by Center for Coastal Studes
A North Atlantic right whale mom swims alongside her calf off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Photo by Center for Coastal Studes

April 14 (UPI) -- Researchers have spotted another two right whales off the coast of Massachusetts, bringing this year's total to three. Last year, scientists failed to spot a single calf.

The mini baby boom is good news for the endangered species. Scientists estimate there are only around 450 right whales living in the ocean.

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The two new whales were spotted in the southern portion of the Cape Cod Bay. Scientists from Center for Coastal Studies in Rhode Island spotted the two calves each swimming with their mothers.

The new right whales were born off the coast of Florida and Georgia during the winter. Right whales mate and give birth along the Southeastern coast and feed in the waters just off the New England coast.

Earlier this month, scientists spotted the first right whale calf of the season during an aerial survey.

Because right whales boast a large blubber content and tend to hug the shore, they were a popular target for whalers. By the end of the 19th century, whalers had nearly wiped out the species.

Today, right whales are protected. In 2016, the federal government expanded the species' protected habitat along the East Coast. But the North Atlantic right whale remains one of the most endangered large whale species in the world, with boat strike and entanglement in fishing gear the greatest threats.

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The species' close relative on the other side of North America, the North Pacific right whale, is even more endangered, with just 200 individuals remaining.

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