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The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is urging Cape Cod boaters to use extra caution due to presence of unusually large number of endangered right whales in the bay area.
In a newly released statement, the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game said that a large number of endangered North Atlantic right whales were spotted swimming in the area.
The right whale population has shrunk to just around 500 animals. A recent aerial survey conducted by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies revealed that nearly 163 of those endangered whales were present in the Cape Cod Bay on the same day.
Low birth rate is a key reason behind right whales’ shrinking population. Spotters looking for mother-and-calf pairs during aerial surveys reported extremely low number of sightings so far this year.
They reported merely three newborns swimming alongside their mothers. That is the lowest number of births recorded since 2000. The annual average is 17 newborns.
Wildlife biologist Clay George said, “The preliminary data are starting to show the population may be flat or declining. But considering how the population turned around in the 2000s, I think it's too early to be too doom-and-gloom about it.”
Boaters have been urged to proceed in the area with extreme caution and to decrease speed to less than 10 knots. They have also been reminded that state as well as federal laws bar boats from coming within 500 yards of an endangered whale.
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