Two right whales with calfs have been spotted off the South Carolina coast near the Lowcountry already this year, giving more support to the growing realization that these waters are part of the critically endangered species winter breeding grounds.

The cows and calves were among five whales to be seen here so far, along with a single adult whale.

Three were seen off the Santee River, two near Hilton Head Island.

The species was nearly wiped out by whalers in the 19th century. Only about 400 are known to exist today, so few that researchers consider every whale vital to the survival of the species.

More details in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier.