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Forty-four right whales spotted off the coast of Maine. Only 325 survive.

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I love nature stories. I can watch endless hours of animal shows, especially about whales and bears. So, this article in the Portland Press Herald caught my attention. It shows some hope for the survival of the endangered right whale:

Federal researchers announced Wednesday that an unusually large number of right whales have gathered in recent weeks off the Maine coast in what appears to be a wintering ground, and potentially a breeding ground, for the endangered species. The discovery is expected to enhance efforts to save and restore the population, which now stands at an estimated 325 animals.

Forty-four right whales were seen Dec. 3 in the Jordan Basin area, which lies about 70 miles south of Bar Harbor and 100 miles east of Portland, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Forty-one whales were spotted just west of Jordan Basin on Dec. 14, it said. Bad weather has prevented more recent flights to the area, according to the agency.

For years, NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center has used small planes to monitor and track migrating right whales along the East Coast, but this congregation had not been seen before.

"We're excited because seeing 44 right whales together in the Gulf of Maine is a record for the winter months," said Tim Cole, who heads the aerial survey team, in the agency's written announcement. It's more common to see three or five whales at a time, he said.
These 44 whales comprise about 14% of the existing right whale population. Let's hope they're feeding and breeding well.

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