Endangered whales off the coast of South Florida captivate onlookers while boaters are urged to stay away

JUNO BEACH, Fla. – There are growing concerns about an endangered right whale and its calf that have been spotted multiple times off south Florida, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is warning boaters to stay away.

The two North Atlantic right whales, believed to be living in the wild, passed a pier in Juno Beach on Wednesday.

The rare sighting drew crowds of onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse.

“Wow crazy I never see whales over here so it was my first time,” said Elizabeth Fudu, who was visiting from France.

The whale with its newborn calf was seen in drone footage captured from the pier.

“To best explain it, it was surreal,” said drone pilot James McGrath, who spent hours searching for the 100,000-pound marine mammal and its calf. “I was just blown away I think I called everyone and their mum brother sister and I just couldn’t believe I had been given this opportunity.”

McGrath had found the mother and calf off Singer Island.

The whales migrate south during the winter months to calve. The mother whale is believed to be one of only about 100 living mating females.

The FWC encourages people to keep their distance. Agency officials follow the animal on its journey south.

Due to vulnerable status, everyone is legally required to stay at least 500 meters away.

“We regularly see dolphins out here, and we share sharks and bull sharks, but never the whale,” said resident Will Govett.

One of the biggest threats to the gentle animals is boat attacks, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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https://www.local10.com/news/local/2023/01/11/endangered-whales-off-south-florida-coast-captivate-onlookers-boaters-urged-to-stay-away/ Endangered whales off the coast of South Florida captivate onlookers while boaters are urged to stay away

Sarah Y. Kim

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