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Posted: January 18, 2016

Rare whale spotted off South Carolina coast

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

One of the rarest whales in the world was spotted off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month.

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The North Atlantic right whale, nicknamed Chiminea, was seen swimming near Folly Beach, just miles from Charleston.

It was the first confirmed sighting of the species in the state in almost three years, according to The Charleston Post and Courier

North Atlantic right whales, which generally average 40-60 feet in length and can weigh more than 100,000 pounds, are among the most endangered whales in the world. In December 2015, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium released a report confirming that 526 right whales still exist. That number had increased by four from the previous year.

North Atlantic right whales, named because their valuable blubber made them the "right" whale to hunt, have been protected from whalers since the 1930s. Even still, they face many manmade threats like entanglements in fishing ropes and netting, ship strikes and water and noise pollution

The right whales, which can also be found off the coasts of Georgia and Florida, seem to be increasing slowly in number. The number of living whales in 2014 was two times the number reported in 1996. On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said biologists spotted three new right whale calves off the coast of Georgia in just two days.

All right whales are identified and cataloged using numbers, according to the organization

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