Friday, December 16, 2011

{Press} Right whales spotted in Provincetown Harbor

Provincetown Banner | December 16, 2011

PROVINCETOWN —

"The first confirmed sighting of North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay was recorded yesterday by Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo, director of right whale habitat studies at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

The two to three whales were spotted in Provincetown Harbor, opposite the East End of Provincetown.

Mayo remarked in a press statement that "the whales were putting on a show the likes of which I've never ever seen except from humpbacks — perhaps 100 breaches, some simultaneous side by side.”

When not breaching, the whales formed a Surface Active Group, or SAG, a type of social behavior between two or more whales that involves frequent body contact, often with whales rolling on their sides or backs. SAGs are thought to play a role in mating, but because they occur throughout the year, many scientists believe that they have other social functions as well, PCCS stated in a press release.

North Atlantic right whales are among the rarest of the baleen whale species, with a population of approximately 473. Cape Cod Bay is a rich feeding ground for the animals; in the first half of 2011, more than 320 individuals (almost three-quarters of the total population) were spotted by scientists in the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies right whale population and habitat research programs."

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