Right whale patrol could run out of funding

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - This is the final year for a grant that helps pay for an airplane to watch for right whales along the Southeast coast.

The Sea to Shore Alliance flights spot the whales and warn ships. Ship strikes are a leading threat to the rare whales, of which there are only about 400 today.

The State Ports Authority has for five years been paying about $200,000 a year for the five-month patrol.

The group says it hopes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will pick up the rest of the cost. The agency already pays the other half of the money for the flights.

Research scientist Cynthia Taylor says there won't be as many flights next year unless more money is available.