NOAA Twin Otter aircraft crew surveys right whales
Last month, the crew of NOAA DHC-6 Twin Otter N48RF wrapped up its right whale survey season off the southeast coast of the United States. The crew of NOAA Corps pilots and scientists sighted 10 new mom/calf pairs, indicating there is hope for the endangered species. Today, researchers estimate there are only about 400 North Atlantic right whales in the population, with fewer than 100 females remaining. Each winter, some right whales travel to the shallow waters off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and northeast Florida to give birth and nurse their young. NOAA's Twin Otter aircraft help scientists identify the whales and track their migration and breeding patterns. This three month project, a partnership between the NOAA Fisheries Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, included over 97 flights and more than 240 flight hours.