Dozens of Rare Whales Spotted Off New England, Caution Urged

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — The federal government is asking vessels to slow down in an area south of Nantucket because approximately one eighth of the worldwide population of an endangered whale has been spotted nearby.

Map of voluntary DMA (short for dynamic management area) in Nantucket, Massachusetts. (Image via NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 50 North Atlantic right whales were seen in the area on Jan. 31. The agency has enacted a voluntary speed restriction until Feb. 15.

The government is encouraging mariners not to travel faster than 10 knots, the Boston Globe reported. Collisions with vessels are a major concern for the animals, which are also threatened by entanglement in fishing gear.

There are only about 400 of the whales left in the world. Their population was decimated by whaling, which is now illegal. Their population remains in jeopardy because of recent high mortality and poor reproduction.

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