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3rd right whale calf spotted off Georgia

Harmonia and her newborn.
Harmonia and her newborn.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA permit 20556-01

In a bit of good news for the endangered North Atlantic right whale population, a new calf was spotted swimming with her mother, Harmonia, off the coast of Georgia, the New England Aquarium said Friday.

The pair were detected about 7 miles off shore Thursday during a routine survey of the right whale calving ground by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the aquarium said in a statement.

Aquarium scientists have long followed Harmonia, an 18-year-old female who has given birth twice before.

“Every calf gives us hope, and seeing Harmonia, who we’ve watched grow from a calf to a healthy mom, with her third calf is particularly exciting,” said Philip Hamilton, a research scientist at the aquarium. “The future of this species rests on the backs of dependable reproductive females like her.”

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only about 400 North Atlantic right whales remain, with fewer than 100 breeding females , making it one of the world’s most endangered large whale species.

The newborn is believed to be the third calf born this season.

On Dec. 16, NOAA Southeast announced the birth of the first calf of the season. The second right whale mother/calf pair was spotted off Georgia on Dec. 30, according to NOAA Fish Southeast.


Stephanie can be reached at stephanie.purifoy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephbpurifoy