1 7 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - Wildlife officials and conservationists are seeing fewer newborn right whales than they had hoped to see this winter off the coasts of Georgia and Florida.

Marine mammal biologist Clay George of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources tells the Savannah Morning News that it's been a "slow season" for new births among the highly endangered whale species.

The calving season that runs from December through March is more than halfway over, yet researchers so far have counted only nine newborn right whales. In an average season about 20 newborn calves are spotted. Experts estimate only about 450 right whales still exist.

Each winter the giant whales migrate south to warmer waters off Georgia and Florida to give birth.

MARINE LIFE: Florida led world with 23 shark attacks in 2013