Endangered Right Whales Spotted Off Plymouth
Critically endangered whales sighted off Plymouth coast
When the phone rang at the Plymouth based office of Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) on Wednesday, no one expected the caller to report whales visible from shore. “At this time of the year, most of the calls to our office are people looking to adopt whales as holiday gifts – not to report whale sightings.” said Karen Urciuoli, WDCS’s Communications and Supporter Relations Manager. Armed with cameras and binoculars, WDCS researchers headed to Ellisville Harbor State Park, where they were able to identify the animals as critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. With a population of less than 500 individuals, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered species on the planet. Unfortunately human interactions, such as ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements, are the largest threat to the species.
“Reporting where right whales are seen is critical to their protection” said Urciuoli “With so few remaining most people will never see one - it is amazing for me to have spotted some for the first time so close to home.” For years WDCS and their allies have been leaders in the protection and research needed to support the revival of the right whale species.
According to WDCS Biologist Monica Pepe “Cape Cod Bay is a Critical Habitat for right whales but they are typically seen here from January through May, not this time of year.” Thanks to the alert supporters, who reported seeing whale spouts on the horizon, WDCS was able to confirm and log the presence of the endangered right whales with the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Sighting Advisory System. Through this multi-institutional effort, ship traffic is alerted to the presence of right whales and asked to reduce speed as well as post spotters in areas where right whales have been seen.
Related programme links:Species
Critical habitat (MPAs)
North and Central West Atlantic