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Watch out for whales around Cape Cod

by NOAA Fisheries 13 Dec 2018 17:20 UTC
New voluntary vessel speed restriction zone established around Cape Cod Bay to protect right whales © NOAA Fisheries

A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) has been established around Cape Cod Bay to protect an aggregation of six right whales sighted in this area on December 11 2018.

This DMA is in effect immediately through December 26, 2018.

Mariners are requested to route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

Cape Cod Bay, MA DMA coordinates:

  • 42 07 N
  • 41 28 N
  • 070 45 W
  • 069 54 W
There is also a Seasonal Management Area in effect in Block Island Sound through April 30, 2019. A mandatory speed restriction of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) is in effect in Block Island Sound.

Right whales are migrating south

North Atlantic right whales are on the move along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. With an unprecedented 20 right whale deaths documented in 2017 and 2018, NOAA is cautioning boaters to give these endangered whales plenty of room as they migrate south. We are also asking commercial fishermen to be vigilant when maneuvering to avoid accidental collisions with whales, remove unused gear from the ocean to help avoid entanglements, and use vertical lines with required markings, weak links and breaking strengths.

Right whales in trouble

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Scientists estimate there are slightly more than 400 remaining, making them one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an "Unusual Mortality Event", which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

More Information:

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