Photo of right whale and calf, by NOAA Photo Library via Flickr CC
It's a rare thing to see a whale birth in the wild, and even rarer to see that of an endangered species. But just last week, researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington witnessed a North Atlantic right whale - one of the rarest whales on earth - give birth to a calf. Unfortunately, it was born in a dangerous area - right next to military sonar testing, which is known to kill whales. NRDC tells us that only one other birth was observed in all the time spent monitoring right whales in the whales' only known calving grounds. That makes this birth incredibly special, since odds are it will be a long time, if ever, that researchers witness it again. Only 300 to 400 animals remain. NRDC has photos of the birth.
Unfortunately, the birth is right outside a planned site for a Navy installation that will have year-round sonar testing. While the Navy argues otherwise, sonar testing has been shown to cause whale deaths, from strandings to burst blood vessels in their brains. A documentary by Volker Barth outlines how the sonar testing causes incredible damage to whales, and the idea of a new major installation so close to the calving grounds of the rarest whale on earth is disturbing.
More on Whales
Ocean Film Fest 2010: It's Not If, But How Military Sonar Kills Whales (Video)
Swimming With A Baby Blue Whale (Video)
Ocean Film Fest 2010 - Bryant Austin Creates World's First Life-Sized High Res Photos Of Whales