One of the rarest whales in the world has been spotted off the coast of South Carolina for the first time in three years. An endangered North Atlantic right whale nicknamed Chiminea was seen earlier this month swimming near Folly Beach, not far from Charleston: It was the first confirmed sighting of a right whale off South Carolina in three years, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.
Right whales reach lengths of up to 55 feet, which is longer than a school bus, and weigh as much as 140,000 pounds, which is nearly the weight of an empty space shuttle. They got their name because they were slow, stayed close to land and floated after being killed due to high levels of valuable blubber — making them the “right” whale to hunt, according to the World Wide Fund For Nature. Centuries of hunting brought them to the brink of extinction, with a population of just 263 whales in 1996, according to the IUCN Red List. FULL REPORT