Right whale is near and dear to Carteret County

If seismic blasting is allowed to occur in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina, it could wipe out the remaining population of right whales.

This is the learned opinion of 28 marine scientists who say the loud noise generated by seismic, underwater testing would be gravely harmful to the health of the whales.  It is believed that only 500 right whales exist today.  The right whale is an endangered species.

Dr. Doug Nowacek, an Associate Professor who is affiliated with the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, is one of the 28 researchers who signed the recent letter to President Barack Obama asking him to put an immediate halt to seismic blasting.

Dr. Nowacek spoke to more than 100 people last week in Morehead City who attended the “Shore Stories” film festival and panel discussion at Carteret Community College.

He said loud noise cause stress to right whales.  Too much stress could be fatal to the survival of the species.

Dr. Nowacek mentioned that the Carteret County Coat of Arms prominently features two right whales.  Indeed it does.

Perhaps Carteret County officials will join in a community-wide effort to protect the whales, thereby avoiding the need to have to go back to the College of Arms in London, England, to get a new one made.

According to Carteret County documents:


The silver diamonds on the shield are representative of the Coat of Arms of the original Sir George Carteret family.  He was one of the eight Lord Proprietors of Carolina, so named by King Charles II in 1668.  (Carteret County was named for John Carteret, grandson of Sir George.)

The black tridents are representative of Neptune, Roman god of the sea.

The yale is a mythical heraldic beast atop the helmet.  On the Carteret County Coat of Arms, this creature has a body of an antelope with curved horns and a lion’s tale.

The black right whales appear quite jovial and are there as “supporters,” appropriate for an oceanside community like Carteret County.

(The “supporters” come from the practice of a Knight’s aides dressing in various animal costumes to attract challenges at tournaments.  Today, one assumes these roles would be filled by various county government department chiefs.)

The idea for a Carteret County Coat of Arms was brought before the Board of Commissioners in 1976 by Emily Loftin and Thelma Simpson.

The request was officially made by John Kenneth Newsome, Chair of the Board of Commissioners at the time, and submitted to the Officer in Waiting of the College of Arms.  The process involves approval by the Earl Marshall and the eventual signing of the “letters patent” by the King of Arms.

The unveiling of the Carteret County Coat of Arms occurred in 1977 in the Driftwood Restaurant at Cedar Island.  You can view the original in the Carteret County Board of Commissioners Room in the Courthouse in Beaufort.

It may also be a fiscally prudent act by today’s Board of Commissioners to join in the movement to save the right whales.

The going rate charged by the College of Arms for a new Coat of Arms, as advertised on its official website today, is 12,100 British Pounds Sterling, the equivalent of $17,410.57 in U.S. currency.

Mike Wagoner, Chamber President