Local Marine Expert Applauds Canal Closure to Protect Whales

Three North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay.
CREDIT: Brigid McKenna/Center for Coastal Studies, under NOAA research permit #19315-01

BOURNE – A local marine expert says that the three right whales in the Cape Cod Canal that led to the passage’s shutdown could have been a close call for the marine animals. 

Center for Coastal Studies’ Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo said though rare, whales have been reported in the canal before, though their size combined with the narrower passage means a vessel strike would have been likely had the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not temporarily closed the canal.

He said that the center’s aerial survey team was able to locate one of the animals after it swam all the way through the Canal and into Buzzards Bay.

“They roam around. And this one roamed in that direction and probably roamed back into the Bay,” said Mayo.

He added that more whales will be arriving soon, as March is when the mammals show up in droves to feed and raise their young. 

Within the same weekend that the canal was closed, United Nations members reached an agreement outlining conservation measures to protect the high seas beyond national jurisdiction.

Mayo said actions like closing the canal, as well as the new text finalized by the U.N., are vital to ensure the ocean’s sustainability.

 “My hope is that it will bleed into a more coherent effort to protect continental shelves and the embayments like Cape Cod Bay,” said Mayo.

“We need to protect all of the ocean—to the beaches and rocky shores.”

The measures also drew applause from other advocates, including the New England Aquarium. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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