Phot courtesy Town of Plymouth, MA

Officials Urge Caution After Viral Video Shows Humpback Whale Landing on Boat

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 15435
July 25, 2022

Environmental agencies in Massachussetts are urging mariners to use caution when operating vessels or personal watercraft near humbpack whales after one of the mammals breached and landed on a 19-foot recreational boat near Plymouth Harbor on Sunday.

You may have seen the viral video of the incident. Thankfully no injuries were reported and the boat sustained relatively minor damage but remained seaworthy. No word yet from the whale.

The Plymouth Harbormaster has sent details of the incident to the Massachusetts Environmental Police for an investigation of violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Eager whale watchers have been drawn to the area off Plymouth following reports that three juvenile humpback whales have been feeding there for at least a week.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) and the Department of Fish and Games’ (DFG) Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) on Monday advised all mariners to use extreme caution when in the vicinity of humpback whales.

“These young whales are engaged in physically active feeding behavior that is very unpredictable, while feeding in a shallow area on menhaden (or “pogies”), a rich and highly abundant schooling forage fish that also attracts striped bass. This creates a safety hazard for both whales and humans,” the Massachusetts Environmental Police said in a statement.

Authorities are also reminding mariners that it is illegal to harass marine mammals under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. This includes any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance that can injure or disrupt the feeding behavior of the animal,

The National Marine Fisheries Service recommends that mariners stay at least 100 feet from whales and take a precautionary approach, given the unpredictable behavior of whales and the potential safety hazards.

Mariners are encouraged to avoid encroaching on the feeding whales and their food source. “The area off of Plymouth Harbor is being patrolled by the Plymouth Harbormaster, MEP, and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Office of Law Enforcement to monitor the area, to conduct outreach, and for enforcement purposes,” the environmental police said.

More info on how to safely observe marine wildlife can be found on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/…/whale-watching-and… and at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/…/marine-life-viewing.

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