A group of people were out on a banana boat run by Coastal Beach Services, who manages beach amenities at Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach, when they spotted the mother and calf.
OKALOOSA ISLAND — A female northern right whale and its calf were spotted Thursday just off the end of the Okaloosa Island Pier.
A group of people were out on a banana boat run by Coastal Beach Services, which manages beach amenities at Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach, when they spotted the mother and calf.
A video of the sighting was posted on the hotel’s Facebook page.
Jeff Fogle, director of animal management at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, was notified by Florida Fish and Wildlife of the pair and went out to the end of the pier to see the whales. With the help of a beachgoer’s drone, Fogle was able to make a positive species identification.
Northern right whales are rare to see in the Gulf of Mexico, Fogle said in a video on the marine park’s Facebook page.
He said right whales are an endangered species, with only about 400 left in the world.
"This is a very critical time for them. If you happen to see them please keep your distance," Fogle said in the video.
The two whales were also spotted near the Pensacola Pass on Wednesday, according to NOAA Fisheries. In a social media post NOAA Fisheries issued the following statement:
JAN. 29, 2020: Right whales spotted off Florida coast
"Approaching or remaining within 500 yards (1,500 feet) of a right whale is illegal. These regulations apply to vessels and aircraft (including drones), and to people using other watercraft such as surfboards, kayaks, and jet skis. Any vessel within 500 yards of a right whale must depart immediately at a safe, slow speed. Call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964 to report violations."
"If right whales are in the area, please refrain from fishing, pull your lines out of the water and move at least 500 yards away (approximately 5 football fields)."
Please report any sightings of right whales to 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343). Sightings may also be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard via channel 16 or through the WhaleAlert app: http://www.whalealert.org/