Spring breakers warned to stay away from endangered right whales

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA research permit #15488

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) – Federal officials are flying a banner over central Florida beaches to warn boaters and spring break visitors to stay away from endangered right whales.

The banner flown Saturday from Cape Canaveral to Sebastian Inlet warns people to stay 500 yards away from the whales, which are migrating along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Only about 450 to 500 right whales remain worldwide. Cheryl Bonnes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Florida Today that officials want people to give the whales a little more space.

The 500-yard rule applies to watercraft or aircraft, including paddle boards and surfboards. Fines for approaching or remaining closer to the whales can be thousands of dollars.

The right whale calving season off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida begins in mid-November and runs through mid-April.

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