New Initiative Launched to Raise Funds for Right Whale Protection

COURTESY CENTER FOR COASTAL STUDIES RIGHT WHALE TEAM

PROVINCETOWN – The critically endangered North Atlantic right whales are beginning to enter Cape Cod Bay for the season and a local marine organization and a business are teaming up to support the species.

The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown and Nauset Disposal have partnered to find 1,000 Friends of Right Whales to raise $100,000 over the next month to support the center’s Right Whale Emergency Initiative.

Through the initiative, the center’s research provides close to real-time information on whale sightings to state and federal regulatory agencies and resource managers. Those managers can alert mariners to the location of right whales so they can slow down or change course to avoid ship strikes.

The agencies can also use the data to implement temporary fishing closures in areas highly trafficked by the whales.

“We need to double and even triple our efforts to expand our rescue capacity and our survey capacities and we need friends to do that,” said Rich Delaney, the president and CEO for the Center for Coastal Studies.

The 1,000 friends campaign will also raise awareness about the center’s efforts to address the two primary causes for right whale deaths – vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements.

“We are hoping all those 1,000 people can be as generous as even $100,” Delaney said. “Obviously we’d like any donation and the right whale needs all the friends it can get.”

Research is underway in the waters off Cape Cod as right whales are returning to the region in large numbers.

The right whales congregate in Cape Cod Bay in the late winter and early spring every year to feed, and this year researchers have seen an increase in the number of whales off the shore of the Cape.

Getting donations for the initiative as soon as possible is important for researchers.

“This is the critical time, now through May, to actually get out there and understand what is happening to this species,” Delaney said.

Delaney said researchers learn the most about the whales during that time. Protection efforts are also abundant in Cape Cod Bay as aerial surveys are routinely performed and a rescue team is on standby 24 hours a day seven days per week.

“That’s great for Cape Cod Bay but we don’t have the same capacity going on outside of the bay as the whales are funneling into the bay along the outer side of Cape Cod or down from the north,” Delaney said.

“There are areas where they are still not observed and not protected as much as they need to be. So we would like to expand to those areas with our existing work.”

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

Birth rates for the species continue to drop as there are only 100 breeding-aged females. There have been no new calves observed during this year’s birthing season.

Delaney said Nauset Disposal has been an outstanding partner in the fundraising effort.

“They are anxious to help us spread the word and build the campaign with other businesses and mostly with other individuals,” he said.

Nauset Disposal owner, and Center for Coastal Studies board member, Shawn Delude believes his company can extend the awareness, education and the importance of the program.

Delude said the company has a large customer base which can help in the effort.

“We believe we are very well connected with our customers. Our customers are connected with us,” he said.

Delude said they will be able to push the awareness even further.

“I believe if we all join together, if we all step up to the plate, it’s go time,” Delude said. “We have to raise this money to support these whales.”

To find out how to become a friend and to contribute visit coastalstudies.org.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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