By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — North Atlantic right whales are always an incredible sight to see. But new footage recently captured by drone shows something truly spectacular – an apparent hug between two of the critically endangered creatures.

Photographer Brian Skerry and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Michael Moore, along with other researchers from the New England Aquarium, captured the rare moment on Feb 28 in Cape Cod Bay. They observed a “surface active group” of whales, which means they are interacting closely and engaging in playful, reproductive or vocal behavior.

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“While flying drones to measure their body condition, researchers saw what appeared to be whales hugging with their flippers, technically described as ‘belly to belly’; perhaps showing affection and attempts at mating,” the aquarium, WHOI and the Conservation Law Foundation said in a statement. “The aerial perspective of these behaviors has rarely, if ever, been captured before.”

An apparent hug between endangered right whales (Credit: Brian Skerry/National Geographic Magazine and Michael Moore/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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Researchers also watched the whales eat plankton and nurse calves.

There are only about 360 right whales estimated to be left on Earth, and fewer than 100 of those are females that are able to raise calves.

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Watch the footage in the video player above. Click here to read more about the encounter, via National Geographic. Staff