Study: Whale and Boat Collisions may be More Common 


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A group of marine scientists says collisions of whales and boats off the New England coast may be more common than previously thought.

The scientists focused on the humpback whale population in the southern Gulf of Maine and found that almost 15 percent of the whales had injuries or scarring consistent with at least one vessel strike.

The researchers published their findings in the March issue of the journal Marine Mammal Science. They say the work shows that the occurrence of such strikes is most likely underestimated.

The lead author of the study is with the group Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The Plymouth, Massachusetts, group says the scientists reviewed more than 200,000 photos of 624 individual humpback whales over a nine-year period to evaluate them for injuries and trauma.

Preliminary findings of a necropsy conducted on a rare North Atlantic right whale which died earlier this month in Cape Cod Bay showed bruising from blunt trauma. The trauma may have been caused by a boat strike.

The right whale species is the most endangered large whale species in the world with population estimates around 525.

There have been a record high number of endangered right whales observed in Cape Cod Bay over the past few weeks, including 163 individual whales in a single day.

Boaters in Cape Cod Bay are asked to keep speeds to 10 knots or under.

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