Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard People gather on a beach In Wrightsville,
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
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.
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.
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.