First there was one. But now the good news from critically endangered North Atlantic right whales has multiplied by seven—the number of new calves spotted so far this year in the waters off Florida and Georgia, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal. That's especially encouraging given the zero calves that were spotted last year and five the year before, but still not enough, researchers say. “Every calf that gets us closer to 10 or a dozen is very encouraging,” says Jim Hain with the Marineland Right Whale Project.
But in order for the whales to maintain their limited numbers, they'd need to be delivering 16-18 calves. "In order for the population to grow, we would need even more calves," says a wildlife biologist. Part of the problem is that female whales are taking longer between deliveries: healthy whales should give birth every three to four years, but the seventh calf spotted this year was his mom's first since 2011. (Read more Northern Right whale stories.)