PROVINCETOWN - Researchers got a glimpse of some critically endangered whales in Cape Cod Bay for the first time this season.
The Center for Coastal Studies says scientists on board a research boat saw between four and seven North Atlantic right whales on Wednesday.
"The whales were observed over the course of four hours, often swimming below the surface," the center said.
Two were photographed feeding near the historic Wood End lighthouse in Provincetown.
One of the pictured whales is named Aphrodite, a 37-year-old female. The other is an adult female named Archipelago, first documented in 2003. Both birthed calves last season.
Back on Jan. 12, the center's aerial survey team saw two right whales in Stellwagen Bank, which is east of Boston between Cape Ann and Cape Cod.
North Atlantic right whale population faces threats
The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium said in October that the decline of the majestic creatures, but big threats to the species remain.
There are estimated to be about 356 right whales left in the world, the consortium said., boat collisions and getting tangled in fishing equipment are among the biggest dangers to the whales.
The whales that can grow to more than 100,000 pounds give birth off the southeastern coast of the United States before making their way to New England and Canada to feed every year.
In November, New England Aquarium scientists reported anof whales chowing down in the region, sometimes feeding side by side with sharks.
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