Tuesday, May 04, 2010

{Press} Large number of right whales off Rhode Island appear to have moved on

The Providence Journal | Peter B. Lord | May 4, 2010

"The historic assemblage of North Atlantic right whales that dallied in Rhode Island waters two weeks ago appears to have moved on.

A survey airplane operated by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies looked for the endangered whales on Saturday in the waters between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard and failed to see even one.

A similar survey flight operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration identified 98 right whales in several groups on April 20. That represented a large portion of the total estimated right whale population of 350 to 400 animals.

The whales generally migrate up the East Coast this time each year, from where they winter off Florida and Georgia to off Maine and Canada, where they spend summers.

The survey team on Saturday saw 16 basking sharks and some dolphins, but no right whales, according to Tanya Grady, communications coordinator for the Provincetown nonprofit organization. She said the group routinely surveys Cape Cod Bay and nearby federal waters because they are considered critical habitat for the whales.

A NOAA survey plane also flew on Saturday over waters east of Cape Cod and spotters in the plane identified 45 right whales, according to spokesperson Shelley Dawicki.

She said the Coast Guard observed one right whale in Rhode Island Sound, but it appears the rest have left."

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