Cape Cod boaters asked to use caution due to presence of extremely endangered right whales

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Whale rescue team members Stormy Mayo, left, and David Mattila, of the Center for Coastal Studies, are seen Tuesday, June 12, 2001 in the Atlantic Ocean some 75 miles east of Cape Cod, attempting to assist an injured right whale with a large commercial fishing line embedded in its jaw. Rescuers are developing a plan to attempt to remove the embedded line.

(AP Photo/Scott Landry-The Center for Coastal Studies)

CAPE COD – Boaters have been urged by officials with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to use extreme caution when enjoying the waters of Cape Cod.  

According to a statement released by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game on Friday, an unusually large amount of endangered North Atlantic right whales have been observed in the bay area. 

The right whale, which is known to congregate and feed near the bay on an annual basis, is a species of whale so endangered that their entire population is only about 500 animals, the statement says. 

An aerial survey conducted on April 12 by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies showed that roughly 163 of those whales were present in the Cape Cod Bay, meaning that some 30 percent of the known population of the species was sighted in the same bay on a single day. 

“Aggregations of this magnitude have never been observed in Cape Cod Bay before,” said Gronendyke. 

Boat owners have been urged to “proceed with extreme caution” and to reduce speed to less than 10 knots.

The statement also reminded boaters that both state and federal law bars vessels from coming within 500 yards of a right whale, and that Massachusetts Environmental Police and the U.S. Coast Guard are known to enforce that law. 



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