BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) – A 40-foot mother right whale that was close to the hearts of many in Central Florida was hit and killed by a ship.
The whale, named Clipper, won many hearts in 2016 when she swam into the Indian River Lagoon with her calf.
Before that moment in 2016, no one could remember a gigantic right whale with her calf swimming under a crowded bridge into Sebastian Inlet.
The right whale is one of the world’s rarest animals to see.
Known as Clipper, the whale appeared to be lost or stuck in the inlet and lagoon, but after two days she and the calf swam back into the Atlantic and on to Canada, where she was found dead recently.
Clipper was hit by a ship in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, one of a rash of deadly collisions.
When the whales started appearing there and they weren’t really expected, there were a number of collisions and entanglements in fishing gear.
Only about 400 right whales exist today.
The whales can reach 50 feet long and weigh 70 tons. They return to the waters off Central Florida every winter to bear their young, but they are losing ground to their worst enemy: humankind.
Most of those recently found dead have been breeding females.
Clipper’s death marks eight right whale deaths this year. There were seven calves born.
Next Wednesday at the Lagoon House in Palm Bay, guests can hear a right whale expert explain how residents can help track the marine mammals and contribute to the survival of the species.
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