New England Waters Continue to be Important to Right Whales

The approximately two month old calf of right whale ‘Harmonia’ playing alongside a channel marker in Cape Cod Bay.
Credit: Center for Coastal Studies, NOAA permit #19315-1

HYANNIS – The New England Aquarium scientists surveyed over 102 individual North Atlantic right whales, a critically endangered species, during the winter and spring seasons.

Populated at less than an estimated 350 whales, southern New England waters have become an important habitat for the species.

The Aquarium flew 11 survey flights, over the course of four months, covering approximately 6,000 nautical miles to collect data.

“The whales tended to be in groups and would surface quickly between dives, indicating they were feeding below the surface. In recent years, the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have become increasingly important habitat for right whales,” said Orla O’Brien, Associate Research Scientist in the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life.

Survey observers have recorded social behaviors such as surface active groups and mating behaviors, though scientists originally believed the right whales came to southern New England primarily to feed.

A large group of surface active whales spotted also included a 15-year-old female “Bocce”, who has birthed two calves previously.

Bocce’s status as a calving female makes her particularly important to the recovery of the species.

Though most of the right whales have been surveyed in New England waters in only the winter and spring months, over the last six years, small groups of right whales have been surveyed in the summer and fall months as well.

More stories from

About Zachary Clapp

Zack is a graduate from Cape Cod Community College who is an avid sports fan and loves everything radio.  Zack joined the NewsCenter in 2023.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy