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Endangered right whales spotted in Cape Cod Bay

Video shows pod of endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay
Video shows pod of endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay 00:43

BOSTON - There's been another sighting of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales off Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Environmental Police said a patrol boat spotted the whales in Cape Cod Bay on Monday. The agency says their boats are helping scientists "by tracking the locations of the migrating whales as they arrive in the waters of the Commonwealth."

Lt. Robert Akin told WBZ-TV that the patrol encountered two pods, totaling 11 whales.

"One group was just off the Pamet River. They were surface feeding," he said. "The second group of three was more toward the middle of Cape Cod Bay. They seemed to be just kind of horsing around ... it was kind of entertaining to watch because usually the right whales are kind of boring."

On Monday, February 12, 2024, the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) Patrol Boat Thomas Paine was underway in Cape...

Posted by Massachusetts Environmental Police on Monday, February 12, 2024

Patrol boats will track whales over the next two months and make sure other boaters follow speed and distance restrictions related to the endangered species. 

Right whale sightings in Cape Cod Bay

The first right whale sightings of the season in Cape Cod Bay happened in January. Scientists with the Center for Coastal studies saw between four and seven whales off Provincetown. Two were seen feeding near the Wood End lighthouse.

There are estimated to be fewer than 360 right whales left in the world. Entanglement in fishing gear and boat strikes have caused dozens of injuries and even deaths for the whale population, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The waters to the east of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine are designated a "critical habitat" for right whales. They feed and mate in the northeast, and travel about 1,000 miles south to give birth in calving grounds off the southeastern coast of the U.S.

It's pretty common to see the whales off New England this time of year, Akin said. 

"Their numbers in the Cape Cod Bay will slowly increase over the next few weeks, I think last year we had 80% of the population here," he said. "And then they'll move out as March draws to a close and we get into April and May and they continue on their migration."

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