BOURNE, MASS. (WHDH) - The Cape Cod Canal reopened Monday after three endangered whales were spotted in the area on Sunday.

The canal was shut down Sunday into Monday to protect the animals.

While closed to boats, the canal drew groups of onlookers to the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of the whales. 

“To hear these guys were here is actually quite fascinating,” one such onlooker, Luis Agosto, said. 

Agosto said he came to the canal to photograph the whales. Agosto added that he was impressed that officials took action to protect the whales. 

Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said the chance to see the whales from the shore was “a lifetime experience.”

The Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard closed the 17-mile canal to all vessel traffic after the right whales were spotted slowly moving west toward Buzzards Bay. 

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered large whale species, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency’s latest estimate suggests there are fewer than 350 individual right whales remaining. 

Moore said the whales face two major risks to their health and survival, including entanglement in rope and collision with vessels. 

“It’s a very considerable risk if the whales were to be encountering vessels doing ten miles an hour in the canal,” Moore said. 

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