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Right whales in Cape Cod Bay

WDC urges mariners to call in sightings to help save Wart and others in an endangered species
WDC urges mariners to call in sightings to help save Wart and others in an endangered species
Help save the Whales in our waters

Biologists and researchers ask the public to report their right whale sightings.

Biologists and researchers are looking to keep track of the North Atlantic right whale mother and calf pair that has been discovered in Cape Cod Bay. Wart and her newborn calf were first discovered off the coast of Plymouth, MA by Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) on January 12th.

Dedicated biologists and marine conservationists have come together to take the best approach to observing and protecting this vulnerable pair and now they call to the public to play a part in their efforts. If you believe that you see Wart and her calf off the coast please report your sighting to NOAA’s Right Whale Sighting hotline: 866-755-6622 details needed to submit a report are highlighted below. Do not attempt to get close to the whales - as it is illegal to approach right whales within 500 yards without authorization from NOAA.

Their presence in the region is outstanding on many accounts. With less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left every birth is a positive sign. The recovery of the North Atlantic right whale is impeded by vessel strikes, fishing gear entanglements, habitat degradation, and climate change. As a survivor of a lengthy and traumatic fishing gear entanglement, Wart herself has already survived some of the most sever challenges her species face and now her calf has its own battle to fight. Visit whales.org to learn more about Wart and her calf, North Atlantic right whales, and the efforts to fight to protect this species.

Wart’s presence with a calf in Cape Cod Bay this January is the first recorded birth of a North Atlantic right whale in this area. In addition to being in a much colder region than the known calving grounds off Florida and Georgia, this vulnerable calf, estimated to be less than a month old, was seen swimming within a mile of operational nuclear power plant, inside of active fishing grounds, and not far from shipping lanes. From 2007 to 2010 Wart was entangled in fishing gear. During that time the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies disentanglement team made five unsuccessful attempts to remove the gear from her, and was finally successful on their sixth attempt in May 2010. Her return to Cape Cod Bay with her calf is the first she has been seen since she was freed from fishing gear in 2010.

Wart and her calf have been seen within a mile of shore from the Cape Cod Canal to North of Plymouth Harbor. Right whales often remain low in the water and exhale a V-shaped mist (blow). Other characteristics of right whales include: white patches (callosities) on their head; smooth edges on tail fluke; paddle shaped black flippers; no dorsal fin; and a black robust body. If you believe that you see Wart and her calf off the coast please report your sighting to NOAA’s Right Whale Sighting hotline: 866-755-6622 details needed to submit a report are highlighted below.

Sighting reports to NOAA should include:

  • The caller’s name and contact information
  • Date and time of sighting
  • Where you were (land/vessel)
  • Location (latitude and longitude if possible)
  • Number of whales sighted
  • Any observed behavior
  • If you are sure that it was a right whale
  • Description of what you saw in detail

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