A North Atlantic right whale and her calf were spotted outside Plymouth Harbor Saturday, according to the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.
The sighting was so early that one scientist called it “mind blowing,” according to the Boston Globe.
Pregnant right whales typically migrate to the coasts of Georgia and Florida to give birth in December or January before returning to feeding grounds like Cape Cod Bay in mid-April.
The whale holds special significance for the center, which in 2008 found it entangled in a rope. Crews made several attempts over three years to free the whale, nicknamed Wart, before cutting the rope with a specially designed arrow in 2011.
The center knew it was the same whale because New England Aquarium scientists identified it from aerial photos.
The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies said the mother, Wart, was last seen in May 2010, days after being entangled from fishing gear by the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team, according to WCVB Channel 5.
Officials said the team had to make six attempts in over three years until 2010 to remove a life-threatening entanglement.
There are aproximately 500 North Atlantic right whales left, which means that the survival and reproduction potential of mature female right whales is critical to conservation efforts.