People.com Lifestyle Pets Drone Footage Captures Rare Moment of Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales 'Hugging' Researchers spotted the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales on a recent trip to Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts. By Kelli Bender Kelli Bender Kelli Bender is the Pets Editor for PEOPLE Digital and PEOPLE magazine. She has been with the PEOPLE brand for more than eight years, working as a writer/producer across PEOPLE's Lifestyle, Features, and Entertainment verticals before taking on her current role. Kelli is also an editor on PEOPLE's Stories to Make You Smile and serves as an editorial lead on PEOPLE's World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest and Pet Product Awards. Before joining PEOPLE, Kelli helped AOL and Whalerock launch a pet lifestyle site called PawNation. She is a pet parent to a cat named Wallace, and her professional and personal devotion to animals has taken her to three dog weddings ... so far. People Editorial Guidelines Published on May 14, 2021 04:36 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Hugging isn't just a land activity. In recently released footage from a February research trip conducted in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the New England Aquarium, the Conservation Law Foundation, and National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, two endangered North Atlantic right whales appear to share a hug. The two whales in the clip — which Skerry and Steve De Neef captured on camera using a drone — are part of a surface active group, also known as a SAG. SAGs are desirable sights for researchers since they "are known to involve close interactions between groups of right whales, that may include playful, reproductive, and vocal behavior," according to release about the research trip. "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 release added about the clip. Researchers are looking forward to learning from the footage they captured on the trip and are eager to share their "hugging" clip with the world since so much of the news surrounding right whales is negative. brian skerry/national geographic; steve de neef Two Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Calves Spotted Off U.S. Coast: 'It Gives Us Hope' There are less than 100 female right whales capable of raising calves left globally, and only about 360 right whales left in total. The marine mammals are considered critically endangered, per the release, and often make the news because of ship collisions and net entanglements. Along with capturing the rare whales peacefully hugging, the trip's researchers also filmed the animals eating plankton and nursing calves. Animal lovers can learn even more about the amazing information this research trip uncovered in Sarah Gibbens's NatGeo.com article about the excursion.