FWC issues warning for boaters during right whale calving season
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida Fish and Wildlife are asking boaters to be cautious in the water for the duration of right whale calving season.
Right whale calving season runs through mid-April in Atlantic state and federal waters off Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. A 54-foot boat was a total loss after accidentally hitting a North Atlantic right whale mom and calf off the Florida coast last year. The boat was close to shore and, thankfully, the crew and passengers made it safely to land.
However, the calf died and the mother was seriously injured and hasn’t been sighted again. This scenario is all too common, and FWC has issued some security steps that boaters can take to lessen the likelihood of a similar situation.
Guidelines for boaters:
- Going slow may give you time to react. Right whales can be extremely hard to spot.
- Post a lookout. Watch for black objects, whitewater, and splashes. Avoid boating in the dark, when visibility is poor, or in rough seas.
- Use the Whale Alert app to know if whales have recently been sighted or reported in your area.
- Check for signage at your local boat ramp or marina as a reminder of what to look for and how to identify and report right whale sightings.
- If a whale is spotted, slow down, operate at slow speed or put your engine in neutral if possible. Assess the scene and slowly leave the area while keeping watch. Never pursue or follow a whale and keep at least 500 yards from right whales (it’s the law).
- Report whale sightings to the proper authorities.
- Report whale collisions as well as dead and entangled whales to the U.S. Coast Guard on marine VHF Ch. 16 or NOAA hotline at 877-WHALE-HELP (942-5343).
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