Surveys Flight Have Found
of Endangered Right Whales
in Great South Channel
Critical Habitat Area
NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SGloucester, Mass. -- NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is alerting fishermen and mariners to the presence of a large aggregation of right whales in an area southeast of Cape Cod known as the Great South Channel Critical Habitat Area. In recent weeks, NOAA Fisheries aerial survey flights have repeatedly sighted more than 50 northern right whales and other large whales in the area. Go here and scroll down to "Latest Sightings" for maps that show where the whales were sighted.
NOAA Fisheries is asking fishermen to voluntarily remove any fixed gear in the GSC Critical Habitat Area, which includes an area known as the Sliver Area. Fishermen are also asked to refrain from setting any fixed gear in the area through the end of June.
The southeastern portion of the Great South Channel Critical Habitat Area overlaps the Nantucket to Boston traffic lanes. Some of the recent right whale sightings include aggregations of animals that appear to be feeding in and just east of the traffic lanes. When feeding, right whales may be less likely to respond to approaching vessel traffic.
Mariners in the area are urged to maintain a sharp lookout and to use caution around right whales. Approaching closer than 500 yards to a right whale is prohibited under federal law.
The alert to mariners was broadcast on NOAA weather radio and as a US Coast Guard notice to mariners. The request for voluntary removal of fishing gear is posted on the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan website.
Aerial surveys are being conducted this week to continue monitoring the whales.