South Atlantic coast on watch for pregnant whales

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Conservationists are on the lookout for endangered right whales arriving along the southern Atlantic coast, where the giant sea mammals migrate each winter to give birth to their calves.

Federal and state wildlife officials closely monitor the waters off Georgia and Florida during the calving season from mid-November to April 1. This year conservationists are hoping for a rebound in births after spotting just six newborn calves — a 10-year low — last winter.

Daily flights to look for right whales from the air begin for South Carolina and the northern Georgia coast on Thursday, and start for the rest of Georgia and Florida on Dec. 1. Meanwhile, federally mandated speed limits for boats are taking effect in those areas.

Experts estimate as few as 400 right whales have survived.

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