Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

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      Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    PCCS Contact:
    Cathrine Macort
    +1-508-487-3622 x103

    Rare opportunity to see critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from land

    North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay.
    PCCS image taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit 14603
    with authority of the ESA.

    Researchers from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) aerial survey team are reporting an aggregation of North Atlantic right whales very close to the beach at Sandy Neck in Barnstable. A group of about 25 animals is clearly visible from the shore.

    Whales are also visible from the beach at Herring Cove and Race Point in Provincetown, and were recently spotted off Sandwich and Plymouth.

    This phenomenon represents a rare and early opportunity to view one of the world's most endangered animals at relatively close range, as State and Federal regulation prevent the whale-watch and other boats from approaching a right whale within a 500 yard (1500 ft) buffer zone.

    According to Cynthia Tynan, PhD, Director of the Center’s Right Whale Population Studies team, the current population of North Atlantic right whales is just 491. In 2011, 313 of these – almost 2/3 - were documented in Cape Cod Bay. Although protected from hunting, the North Atlantic right whale population still carries heavy losses from entanglements and ship strikes. In 2010 alone, five right whale deaths were confirmed and documented. Over the past 35 years, scientists at PCCS have worked to learn more about right whales, their use of Cape Cod Bay and their habitat requirements. Current research includes aerial surveillance, habitat and food resource monitoring and investigation into the acoustic behavior of right whales.

    The North Atlantic right whale is listed as a critically endangered species and is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies carries out research under permit NOAA Fisheries permit #14603 under the authority of the US ESA and MMPA.

    Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 and dedicated to preserving coastal and marine ecosystems and providing educational activities which promote the responsible stewardship of our oceans.

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