Monday, November 21, 2011

{Press} Whale migrating season under way | November 19, 2011

"The calving season for the endangered right whale has begun and mariners are asked to report any sightings of the whale as it migrates south along waters off the East Coast.

According to NOAA, whale calving season begins in mid-November and runs through mid-April, which means these large whales are on the move, making their way down the southeast coast.

Boaters are asked to report sightings of the endangered whale and keep a distance of at least 500 yards from the protected species. Scientists estimate as few as approximately 360 right whales remain, making the right whale one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Each winter pregnant right whales migrate south from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warm coastal waters of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida, to give birth and nurse their young.

These southern waters are the only known calving area for the species, according to a news release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Right whales are large but because they are dark with no dorsal fin they can be difficult to see.

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Federal law prohibits approaching or remaining within 500 yards of right whales, either by watercraft or aircraft.

Federal law also requires vessels 65 feet long and greater to slow to 10 knots or less in Seasonal Management Areas along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and follow seasonal ship speed restrictions.

NOAA Fisheries Service encourages people to report sightings of dead, injured, or entangled whales to NOAA at 877-433-8299."

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