Right Whales Begin Seasonal Migration to Cape Cod Waters

Endangered North Atlantic right whales

PROVINCETOWN – Cape Codders know that tourists come with the warming weather.

So do the whales.

Researchers say North Atlantic right whales and their newborn calves have been arriving off the shores of Cape Cod.

The endangered and very rare species of whale makes the yearly migration from waters off the coasts of Florida and Georgia to feed in cooler waters off the Cape.

“We have quite a few whales here, especially considering that this is a pretty small bay and these are very rare animals,” said Charles “Stormy” Mayo of Center for Coastal Studies.

“We had 61 whales sighted on our last aerial survey.”

The North Atlantic right whale population is seen by researchers to be at great risk of extinction, with only an estimated 411 remaining in the world. Statistics show the mammal’s steady decline in numbers from 2010 through 2017.

“We have a really exceptional beginning to the season. The population is in decline and very low. The whole North Atlantic population is estimated to be just over 400 animals,” said Mayo.

Mayo says the reproduction rates of the whales has increased from last year, which totaled of zero calves born. However, he says the birthrate for this year is still low considering the amount of females in the population,

“From what I understand from our colleague who worked in the identified calving ground, there have been seven calves born and that is an awful lot better than last year, which was down to zero,” said Mayo.  

“On the other hand, there a very large number of females, perhaps 100 animals, that are still left in the population and are capable of reproducing, but for some reason they’re not. I’m going to anticipate that next calving season we’ll hear about a lot more [births]. Otherwise, the situation grows evermore grave.”

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center 

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