April 3, 2015
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
First Right Whale Mother/Calf Pair of Northeast Season Sighted Near Martha’s Vineyard
The first right whale mother and calf pair sighted in the Northeast this season was observed April 1 by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)’s aerial survey group in waters near Martha’s Vineyard. The mother has been identified as right whale #1611, also known as Clover, who was born in 1986. This is her fourth calf.
The whales were sighted and identified by Leah Crowe, who was flying with Peter Duley and Jennifer Gatzke of the NEFSC’s aerial survey group. Information about Clover is available through the North Atlantic right whale catalog, a collaborative effort of over 300 individuals and organizations including NOAA Fisheries Service and the NEFSC. NOAA Fisheries funds the curation of the catalog by the New England Aquarium. The North Atlantic right whale population is estimated to be about 500.
The aerial team’s survey area was designed to obtain visual sightings near an acoustic buoy that was deployed in March by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) near Nomans Land island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
The acoustic buoy is a joint project between the NEFSC and WHOI; principal investigators are Mark Baumgartner of WHOI and Sofie Van Parijs, Peter Corkeron and Tim Cole of NEFSC.
The mother/calf pair sighting, along with two other right whales in the area, triggered a Dynamic Management Area (DMA), a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone to protect the whales in Rhode Island Sound 35 nautical miles south of Providence, Rhode Island through April 16. Mariners are requested to route around the area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.
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