Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

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    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Center for Coastal Studies contact:

    Dr. Charles "Stormy" Mayo
    508-237-9448 mobile

    Dense Aggregation of Right Whales Vulnerable to Ship Collision

    IThe Center for Coastal Studies research team, working in central Cape Cod Bay, has reported unusually high densities of whales aggregated and feeding below the surface and consequently extremely vulnerable to collisions with ships.

    In fact, the R/V Shearwater, working on a related habitat studies project in this area, and traveling a slow speed with trained observers on deck, collided with a whale that surfaced just beneath the vessel. The extent of any wounds was hard to determine, but fortunately, the whale swam off lifting its tail fluke and was lost from sight among other feeding whales.

    Dr Charles "Stormy" Mayo, who has been conducting research around right whales for over 30 years, commented "The incident illustrates just how vulnerable and dangerous this kind of situation can be. Although transiting a low speed of 9 knots and with several observers on the lookout, the whales' behavior of swimming just beneath the surface made the collision unavoidable"

    The area of greatest concern is where whales are densely aggregated and feeding and nearly invisible to boaters. At present that area includes the western shore of Cape Cod Bay and the area around the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal.






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