Critically endangered North Atlantic right whale spotted off the Avon Pier

By on January 10, 2023

Image by Mike Hysong | Video on Island Free Press

By Joy Crist | Island Free Press

A critically endangered juvenile North Atlantic right whale was spotted off the Avon Pier on Sunday, January 8, and the rare encounter was captured on video by beachgoer Mike Hysong.

The sighting caught the attention of Marina Doshkov, Database Technician and Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator with the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, who reported it to NOAA for identification, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The first thing we do is contact the Coast Guard so they can issue a bulletin to mariners to reduce speed in the area,” said Doshkov. “This helps reduce [the risk of] a collision.”

There are approximately 325-335 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, from Canada to Florida, which include 60-70 reproductive females. On average, there are 10 new calves born every year.

The whale off of Avon was identified by Doshkov and her colleagues by his size, as well as the distinctive callosities, (or pattern of white patches), on top of his head.

“This is a teenager, and the teenagers kind of mill around and do what they want,” said Doshkov. “He will probably hang around the area for a few days, or he may wander [elsewhere] – these whales can move at two meters per second, so he can travel to Canada in about a week.”

Per NOAA, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, and is one of three right whale species in existence. The other two are the North Pacific right whale, which is found in the North Pacific Ocean, and the Southern right whale, which is found in the southern hemisphere. Right whales are baleen whales, which feed on tiny crustaceans by straining huge volumes of ocean water through their baleen plates, which act like a sieve.

North Atlantic right whales migrate seasonally and may travel alone or in small groups. In the spring, summer, and fall, many of these whales can be found in waters near New England and Canada, where they typically feed and mate. In the winter, however, some right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from these feeding grounds to the shallow, coastal waters of their calving grounds off of South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida, though these migration patterns can vary.

Right whales can live for at least 70 years, and adults can grow to lengths of 52 feet. Though a sighting is rare, this is the second reported North Atlantic right whale in the area in the past several months, as in November, another whale was spotted near Ocracoke Island. (A deceased baby calf that was approximately one day old was also reported last weekend in the Morehead City area.)

Prior to November 2022, the last sighting of a right whale in the Outer Banks region was approximately 5-7 years ago.

North Atlantic right whales are friendly and are known to approach kayakers or anyone in their preferred waters, which are typically 100-200 yards offshore. The one spotted on Sunday was approximately 200 yards away, and was just visible from the Avon shoreline. Though there have been no additional sightings reported, beachgoers are advised to keep their eyes on the horizon in case this rare visitor makes another appearance in the not-so-distant future.

How you can help:

Because North Atlantic right whales are so endangered, and can have collisions with mariners, fishing nets, and other manmade obstacles, anyone who spots a whale is advised to call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network locally at 252-455-9654, or the national hotline at 1-877-WHALE-HELP.



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


See what people are saying:

  • Greg

    In Sanderling I spotted a Right Whale and Calf last February. I reported it to NOAA.

    Wednesday, Jan 11 @ 8:49 am