Feds Extend Voluntary Speed Restriction South of Nantucket

NANTUCKET – Federal officials have extended the voluntary speed restriction zone off of Nantucket to protect a pod of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales in the area.

8 whales have been spotted about 20 nautical miles southwest of the island. Mariners are asked to travel around the area or reduce their speeds through it to 10 knots or less.

The new alert is in effect through April 12.

Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less are in effect in Cape Cod Bay through May 15.

The status of the species is bleak, particularly after 17 of the animals were found dead in 2017. Researchers estimate there are about 450 right whales left in the world.

A large portion of the global population comes to the waters off Cape Cod each year to feed.

Researchers say 50-60 of the animals had already been spotted by the end of the March, an increase in activity compared to recent years.

The whales are expected to head north by the end of May.

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