SAVANNAH — Researchers who monitor endangered right whales off the Atlantic coast are celebrating after spotting newborn calves belonging to three whales that years ago had to be rescued from entanglement in fishing gear.
Clay George of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says two of the mother-and-calf pairs were seen earlier this month in Georgia waters near Jekyll and Little St. Simons islands. The third sighting was off Cape Cod, Mass.
Jamison Smith, who heads the whale-disentanglement program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said right whales rarely are seen having babies after being rescued from fishing gear.
Some researchers suspect rescue procedures cause stress for the ensnared whales that later impairs their ability reproduce.
Right whales are critically endangered. Experts estimate as few as 400 exist.