Monday, February 25, 2008

Senator Kerry's Bill to Protect Right Whales

WASHINGTON, Feb 20, 2008

Senator John Kerry today introduced legislation that would help protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from injury and death due to ship strikes. The Ship Strike Reduction Act of 2008 would require the Bush Administration to finalize a rule establishing speed limits for specified vessels in migratory paths of North Atlantic right whales. The federal rule enforcing the speed limits, known as "the Ship Strike Rule," was first proposed in February, 2007, but the rule has been buried in the regulatory process for over a year.

"The Bush Administration needs to stop dragging their feet, follow the best available scientific evidence, and take immediate action to protect endangered right whales. A continued delay in finalizing these protections will result in even more deaths that are easily avoidable, and push the species closer to extinction," Kerry said.

Ship strikes are the leading cause of death for the North Atlantic right whale. Top scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared that a reduction in speed was absolutely vital to protecting this critically endangered species. The proposed rule calls for reductions in speed limits to 10 knots for boats at least65 feet long and traveling within 30 nautical miles of ports between Savannah, GA, and New York City, NY, during the peak right whale migratory months, November through March.

"Limiting vessel speed to 10 knots or less is the most effective, viable option for protecting right whales," said Jeff Flocken, Washington, D.C.Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)."As the possibility of more collisions from ship traffic continues to increase, the right whale faces an imminent threat of extinction."

"The Administration's own scientists have told us what needs to be done to save this species, yet there has been no movement on the recommendations in over a year. Senator Kerry's bill compels the Administration to finally move forward in protecting this endangered whale," Flocken said.

The North Atlantic right whale population was decimated by whaling at the turn of the last century. Less than 350 North Atlantic right whales exist today, making them one of the rarest whales in the world.

Founded in 1969, IFAW is an international animal welfare and conservation organization that works to protect wild and domestic animals and to broker solutions that benefit both animals and people.To learn more and to take action, visit www.ifaw.org today.

SOURCE: International Fund for Animal Welfare

Friday, February 22, 2008

Aerial Survey- 21 February 2008

EGNO 1503, an adult female North Atlantic right whale. Photo by Christin Khan, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

After two and half weeks of high winds, the aerial survey team took off from Chatham anxious to see what’s happening in Cape Cod Bay. Unfortunately, the winds had not subsided as quickly as we had hoped, and there were still quite a few whitecaps obscuring our view.

We were fortunate to find one right whale amidst the rough seas and get some photos of the callosity pattern before calling it a day and returning to the airport. We later determined that the whale was EGNO 1503, an adult female last seen in Massachusetts Bay in 2006. She gave birth to a calf two years ago.

Right whale photo taken under Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies NOAA Fisheries permit 633-1763, under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Right Whale Calving Season Update


So far this year there have been 16 right whale calves born off the Southeastern United States! The rate of discovery of new calves is pretty similar to the past two seasons, so I'm hopeful that we'll have even more calves born over the next month or so.
Thanks to all the aerial survey teams in the Southeastern United States who collect this valuable data- Florida Fish and Wildlife Institute, the New England Aquarium, and Wildlife Trust.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Aerial Survey- 03 February 2008

EGNO 1968, an adult female North Atlantic right whale. Photo by Christin Khan, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

The aerial survey team completed a full survey of Cape Cod Bay in beautiful sighting conditions again on Sunday. The beginning of the survey was uneventful, with no whale sightings as we traveled up the back side of the Cape and around into the northern half of Cape Cod Bay. About halfway through the flight, we spotted the distinctive callosity of a right whale very close to shore near Truro/Wellfleet. After circling to photograph the right whale and collect behavioral data, we returned to our tracklines and continued working our way south. We were just about ready to head in for the day when a second right whale was spotted on our last trackline, again in shallow water, this time just north of Barnstable Harbor. The whale was resting motionless at the surface of the water in a behavior known as “logging”, so it was quite easy to get the photographs necessary to match the whale to the catalog of known individuals. Anxious to get a closer look at our data and photos, we returned to the Chatham airport.

Right whale photo taken under Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies NOAA Fisheries permit 633-1763, under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts.

Right Whale Calving Rates