BOSTON — For a lot of April, the state Division of Marine Fisheries has been conserving an in depth eye on “reasonable to excessive densities” of North Atlantic proper whales off the coast of Massachusetts and environmental authorities are reminding mariners to both go sluggish or discover one other route round areas the place the endangered mammals have been noticed.
Aerial and acoustic surveillance performed earlier this month by the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Provincetown Middle for Coastal Research discovered a lot of proper whales, doubtless feeding, in “Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay, Stellwagen Financial institution, state waters on the bottom of Cape Cod, and the nearshore federal waters south of Martha’s Winery and Nantucket.”
By means of April 30, a 10-knot velocity restriction is in place for small vessels in Cape Cod Bay and a corresponding federal velocity restrict is in place for vessels bigger than 65 ft.
The Division of Marine Fisheries mentioned its velocity restrict may very well be prolonged or rescinded relying on whether or not the whales stay within the space or transfer alongside.
“In the course of the late winter and early-spring, proper whales migrate into and mixture in Cape Cod Bay the place they feed on zooplankton. As we transfer into the spring, these whales start to feed nearer to the floor and develop into extra inclined to ship strikes,” NOAA mentioned. “Ship strikes are a major supply of mortality to those endangered whales. Nonetheless, the lethality of ship strikes is enormously diminished when vessels are working at lower than 10-knots velocity.”
Proper whales received their identify, NOAA mentioned, “from being the ‘proper’ whales to hunt as a result of they floated once they had been killed.” Nantucket and New Bedford thrived as whaling ports within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, however the expeditions that helped gasoline the Industrial Revolution severely depleted whale populations and proper whales “have by no means recovered to pre-whaling numbers,” NOAA mentioned.
Northern proper whales have been listed as endangered since 1970 and there are estimated to be fewer than 400 remaining on Earth.
Safety of the endangered marine mammals has factored into the introduction of the offshore wind trade in Massachusetts and the Northeast.