I receive Right Whale Sighting Update emails from Joy Hampp, Project Coordinator of the Marineland Right Whale Project here in Marineland, FL.
I recently asked Joy if it would be OK if I began posting her updates, (in my own words). Her reply was it would be fine, "We would like to get the word out.", so here I am!
The Marineland Right Whale Project Officially began on December 9th of this year with the sighting of a mother/calf pair in St. Johns County, FL. The pair moved north to St. Augustine Beach, stuck around for a little while then went south to Matanzas Inlet. When the spotter team left the whales, the whales were still very slowly heading south. The mother whale was ID'd as Right Whale #2753, Arpeggio.
On December 10th, Arpreggio and her calf were spotted further south in Flagler County, near Beverly Beach Camptown which is located just north of Flagler Beach. They then headed north to Painters Hill for a little while, then back south to Flagler Beach again where they hung out for about 45 minutes then headed back north then out to sea.
Arpreggio must be super proud of her baby as she continued to show it off on December 13th St. Augustine Beach and Matanzas Inlet again! She was reported to do three "spyhops" then swim off...
On Friday, December 14th the sea was foggy, but the pair were still hanging out off the Northern Florida shoreline. As the fog lifted they were spotted by residents of the Surf Club at Matanzas Shores, my friends from Marineland confirmed our proud mama and calf and stayed with them until sundown.
Saturday, December 15th, they were once again spotted north of St. Augustine.
Apparently Arpeggio and her baby were spotted a few times in Ponte Vedra the following week, then on December 23rd they were spotted back in our area in Crescent Beach. They traveled to the north end of Butler Beach where they turned south for parts unknown.
On December 23rd another whale pair were spotted in the Daytona Beach area! They were identified through "TV news helicopter footage" (per Joy Hampp) as Right Whale #1701 and the calf she gave birth to last year! Joy states: "While not common, there have been a few mothers in past seasons that have returned the following year with their calves."
Christmas Day appeared to be very exciting for the Marineland Right Whale Project. Arpeggio and her baby showed up again in front of the Surf Club at Matanzas Shores. Once again the volunteers followed them north and south until they disappeared.
Then, later in the afternoon a call came in from Hammock Dunes, another sighting. This time three Right Whales, The Projects "first SAG (Surface Active Group) of the season!" The team stayed with the group watching the three interact until sundown.
Now we are all up to date! This is my 2nd year receiving the emails from Joy and I am thrilled at all the activity the Marineland team is seeing.
They have already spotted 7 whales this season, last season their total was 34 confirmed right whale sightings, 18 mother/calf, 7 singles, 6 pairs, and 3 SAGS. I'm not sure what the Right Whale numbers are up to, I believe it is around 400, when I first got interested in this species it was 350. Yes, 350 of this particular species of whale in the whole world.
The photo at the top of this post is a photo I took 2 years ago of a mother and calf that came by my office in Ormond By The Sea. It could be a whale named Piper as she was in the area that day with her calf along with a 2nd whale and calf. If you are driving along our coast and see a sight like the whales pictured above, one sure way to tell if they are Right Whales is when they exhale they will spray the water into a V spout.
If you are lucky enough to see this, please call The Marineland Right Whale Project at
You can find contact info for Joy Hammp or Jim Hain here