If you plan to boat or fish in the Atlantic Ocean this winter, be on the lookout for North Atlantic Right Whales who are calving in state and federal waters off Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina from November through April. These endangered mammals are extremely hard to spot and collisions have caused costly damage to boats, putting passengers and crew at risk, along with injuring and killing right whales. With fewer than 350 left, right whales are one of the world’s most endangered large whale species.
Protect your boat and crew by doing the following:
- Go slow, which could give you time to react.
- 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 and collisions immediately to the U.S. Coast Guard on marine VHF Ch. 16 or call 1-877-WHALE-HELP (942-5343).
Learn more about what you can do to prevent right whale collisions at MyFWC.com/Research by clicking “Wildlife.”