Right Whales Begin To Appear In Cape Cod Bay

Three rare North Atlantic right whales photographed in Cape Cod Bay by Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team on February 21, 2016. CCS image taken under NOAA permit #14603-1.

Three rare North Atlantic right whales photographed in Cape Cod Bay by Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team on February 21, 2016.
CCS image taken under NOAA permit #14603-1.

PROVINCETOWN – An aerial survey team from the Center for Coastal Studies says there has been a dramatic increase in the number of right whales off the coast of Cape Cod over the last week, a sign that the 2016 right whale season is underway.

Crews spotted nine right whales during a flight on Monday, an increase from the scattered numbers that have been spotted in Cape Cod Bay since November.

The critically endangered whales congregate in the bay every year to feed on zooplankton blooms. In recent years, approximately half of the estimated 526 right whales remaining have been spotted in the waters off the Cape.

The presence of the whales results in restrictions on mariners in the area. It is illegal to operate boats, kayaks, and light aircraft within 500 yards of the animals.

Scientists expect more whales to arrive in the area over the next two months.

“The upcoming months will offer some terrific opportunities to see these whales from the shores of Cape Cod,” said Mayo. “The right whales often feed very close to shore, offering whale watchers on land an unbeatable view of one of the rarest of the marine mammals.”

The right whale research team at the Center for Coastal Studies will be surveying the bay over the next few months by both air and sea.

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