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Right Whale Signs

Click image to enlarge. map showing distribution of Right Whale signs
Right whale sign distribution
as of July 11, 2017

North Atlantic right whales still number in the hundreds, not thousands. Vessel strike is one of the leading causes of preventable mortality. Vessel strike accounts for 18% of right whale mortalities in which the cause of death was determined, and 15% of the population carries visible scars from a vessel strike. NOAA is mandated to protect endangered right whales under both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In order to reduce the risk of vessel strike - we need boaters to be aware of the presence of right whales, keep an eye out for them, slow down where right whales are present, and report their sightings. Because right whales are so few in number, many people have never encountered a right whale and are unaware of their presence. Inspired by the right whale sign campaign in the Southeast region and armed with a small NOAA Outreach & Education mini-grant, we have created a right whale awareness sign and begun distribution to coastal marinas and boat ramps from Virginia to the Canadian border. The 2-by-3-foot aluminum signs read “North Atlantic Right Whales Need Your Help!” and include photographs to aid in the identification of right whales, information on what to do if you see a right whale, regulatory information on the 500 yard approach rule and Seasonal Management Areas, and the NOAA hotline number to report the sighting.

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