Subject: Right whale sighting

n.patenaude@auckland.ac.nz
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 10:17:18 GMT+1200

Date:          Sun, 09 Mar 1997 16:42:30 -0500
From:          Margie Lenau <lenau9@idt.net>
Reply-to:      lenau9@idt.net
To:            n.patenaude@auckland.ac.nz, pita@whale.simmons.edu,
               krill@whale.simmons.edu
Subject:       Right whale, South Carolina

I was wondering if anyone has reported a sighting of right whales off of
South Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA. We were on a
fishing boat, the Drifter, on March 5, 1997 at about 3:00 pm and the
captain stayed to view a mother and calf for about 30 minutes. They told
us the whales were right whales. I was thrilled and so were my husband
and 3 children! Do they actually go to that area of the USA? Is this
really what we saw?

Thanks
M. Lenau

Dear Margie,

Yes it could have been a right whale you and your husband saw.  In the southeast U.S. most 
sightings of right whales occur between January and April as the whales are slowly moving 
northwardly.  In winter, mothers and calves are found in shallow waters along the coast 
between Georgia and Florida and then in late winter there is a northward migration towards 
the Bay of Fundy and the Scotian Shelf so sightings along South Carolina are likely to 
occur.

You would know a right whale if you saw one as they are esily identifiable out at sea.  They 
have really large heads covered with "callosities".  These callosities are raised thickened 
patches of skin on which whale lice and barnacles live, making the patches appear whitish 
(or sometimes yellow or orange) in colour.  They also have a V-shaped blow and and broad 
back with no dorsal fin.



Nathalie Patenaude
Molecular Ecology and Evolution Group
School of Biological Sciences
Private Bag 92019
University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand

Ph:  649 373 7599 ext 4588
Fax: 649 373 7417