A right whale calf died after colliding with a boat just outside the St. Augustine Inlet Friday evening, according to the Marineland Right Whale Project director and officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The calf washed up on the northern part of Anastasia State Park Saturday morning between the St. Augustine Inlet and the bathhouses for Anastasia State Park, with "severe" injuries from a propeller, Jim Hain, the director of the Marineland Right Whale Project, said.
Chris Pacetti with the St. Augustine Fire Rescue told First Coast News that around 6:48 Friday evening, he and other rescue crews responded to a call regarding a boat taking on water in Salt Run, not far from the Inlet. Pacetti said five people were rescued from the sport fisherman boat, as well as some equipment and belongings. All occupants aboard stated they “hit a whale and began taking on water quickly," Pacetti said.
Blair Mase with NOAA confirmed the boat that collided with the calf was a sport fisherman boat coming in for the day, but she could not confirm that the boat grounded in Salt Run was the exact one that struck the whale Friday evening.
She said right whales, the most critically endangered whales in the world, are extremely vulnerable to both vessel strikes and entanglement injuries.
There are said to be less than 400right whales left on earth.