An estimated 100 of the 450 North Atlantic Right Whales left in existence have gathered in protest off the shores off Cape Cod this Earth Day in possibly the largest aggregation of the endangered species ever documented. The whales are reminding boaters and large commercial ships to slow down and keep your distance. Although a recently passed Federal law prohibits vessels greater than 65 feet in length from exceeding speeds of 10 knots in Cape Cod Bay during this time of year, the whales say more can be done, amassing to the waters off Cape Cod from all over the North Atlantic.
The Whales are also taking advantage of the increased media coverage of the protests, reminding the public that state and federal law prohibits vessels from approaching within 500 yards of a right whale, confirming the Massachusetts Environmental Police and U.S. Coast Guard are ready and authorized to enforce the rule.
The Right Whales say vessel traffic in the area increases this time of year with seasonal increases in recreational and commercial fishing, whale watching, and passenger ship activity, increasing their vulnerability to collisions with ships and small pleasure craft alike. The Right Whales want to remind people that although it is the time to start getting back out on the water, you need to do so cautiously, as it coincides with their migratory route and an especially high abundance of zooplankton this time of year.
Right whales are the most endangered large whale in the North Atlantic, and their slow movements, time spent at the surface, and time spent near the coast make them highly vulnerable human activities, especially being struck by ships.
For more information on the rule protecting North Atlantic Right Whales, known as the Ship Strike Reduction Rule, can be found HERE.
Image via NOAA