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‘Truly alarming’: No babies for endangered right whales

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2002: Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis), Balaenidae. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) _ The winter calving season for critically endangered right whales is ending along the southeast U.S. seacoast and scientists are bracing for what would be the worst season in three decades _ with no newborns spotted since December.

Survey flights over the Georgia and Florida coasts haven’t turned up any mother-and-calf pairs in four months. Those surveys are to wrap up when the month ends Saturday.

Researchers have recorded between one and 39 births each year since 1989. A zero-birth year would come at a terrible time. A total of 17 right whales washed up dead in the U.S. and Canada last year, far outpacing five births.

Philip Hamilton is a right whale researcher at the New England Aquarium in Boston. He calls the dismal calving season “truly alarming.”