Two North Atlantic right whales were recently spotted off the New Hampshire coastline, a rare sighting of one of the most endangered species in the world. According to the New England Aquarium, which has cataloged all of the right whales in the world, one of the whales (spotted off North Hampton) is 35-year-old female Aphrodite, and the other is 32-year-old male Andy, who was spotted off Hampton.
Aphrodite was swimming only a few hundred yards from the North Hampton shoreline, making her easily visible from the beach, even without binoculars. She reportedly swam back and forth in the same location for hours, skim feeding tiny plankton called copepods at the surface.
According to Brian Yurasits, Community Outreach Manager for the Seacoast Science Center, these right whales are on their annual migration from their breeding grounds in the south to their summertime home in the north. Yurasits, who has been working in the field for 10 years, says he has never seen a North Atlantic right whale so close to shore.
According to the New England Aquarium, there are approximately 350 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the world, of which only 100 are breeding females. Aphrodite has had six known calves. Boaters may encounter more North Atlantic right whales during this migration period, and it is important to remember that it’s illegal to approach the animals within 500 yards with any type of watercraft or drone.