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Calvin & Calf
Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard People gather on a beach In Wrightsville, N.C.,
to see Calvin with her own newly born calf (not shown) In this photograph taken In January.

Calvin and calf may be headed for Bay of Fundy
Special right whale is offspring of NB Museum's Delilah

BY MAC TRUEMAN
Telegraph-Journal
July 18/05

    Marine biologists have even more reason for apprehension as they watch the Bay of Fundy this month for the arrival of a right whale named Calvin and her miracle calf.
   In a run of very bad luck last winter, five whales - representing six per cent of all breeding females of this very endangered whale species - were killed by gear entanglements and ship strikes off the east coast of the United States.
   On Wednesday, a U.S. National Marine Fisheries aircraft photographed 100 of these docile whales congregating at a feeding ground 100 kilometres east of Cape Cod that lies on a busy shipping lane - like cats sleeping in the middle of a highway.
   One hundred right whales represents an entire third of the world's population of 300. It has been estimated that only 85 right whales are females capable of breeding, said Tony LaCasse, information officer for the New England Aquarium.
   That's why Calvin is more than a human interest news story to scientists at this Boston-based marine sciences centre, he said.
   "She's a new mother. And with the loss of all those wellestablished mothers, she's critical."
   Calvin first made the news more than 13 years ago when a Grand Manan family on a boat trip witnessed the thrashing of a 30-tonne whale in the throes of death, apparently after it was struck by a ship.
   When the whale fell still, the family watched her eight-month-old calf swim slowly away, presumably to eventually starve.
   The calf, named Calvin by the biologists defied expectations of the Aquarium scientists by surviving, and by turning out to be female. She delivered a third surprise last January by showing up off Wrightsville, N.C. with her own newly born calf.
   Whale scientists from several institutions are holding back celebrations until Calvin returns to Fundy. And this could be at any time, Mr. LaCasse said.
   Two mother-and-calf pairs of right whales were spotted last week - one by a naturalist from the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station, and the other by a team from Dalhousie University.
   Calvin has not been spotted since early spring, but Mr. LaCasse said this is not unusual.
   "When photographs come in from an aerial flight, we are often a few weeks behind and sometimes a few months behind in processing them all, because we get so many of them at once."
   Scientists can identify each right whale by its unique pattern of white skin markings known as callosities.
   The 12-metre skeleton of Calvin's mother Delilah is displayed at the New Brunswick Museum, where it will be featured July 21 in the museum's "Whale of a Time" event, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
   Visitors will don lab coats to experience life as a marine biologist, before snacking on plankton salad, dulse dessert and other fishy delights. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children and students, $12 per family.

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