Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute expands survey to track very rare whale

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute announced on Monday it has tripled its efforts, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to triple its efforts in saving the right whale.

The right whale is one of the rarest whales in the world, with scientists estimating there are less than 400 of the species remaining.

Along with survey effort from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and NOAA, aerial survey teams are now tracking right whales from the Cape Canaveral seashore to the North Carolina and Virginia border.

Officials will cover an additional total of 3,700 miles under the new efforts.

“We are very excited to expand our aerial survey efforts this year,” said Melanie White, North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Project Manager.

White said the COVID-19 pandemic has of course presented some challenges, but strict protocols have been implemented. Two new field houses have been opened. Six new biologists have been hired and two additional planes will support the new area of coverage.

The CMARI team was responsible in the 2019-2020 season for 80 nautical miles of tracklines.

The team was the first to spot the first right whale

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