BOSTON (WHDH) - The Coast Guard is asking boat owners to exercise caution in the waters off Massachusetts after groups of endangered right whales were spotted.

The whales were reported Wednesday in the area of Boston Light to Marshfield, officials said.

It’s unlawful to approach within 500 yards of a North Atlantic right whale by a vessel, aircraft or other means, according to the Endangered Species Act.

“North Atlantic right whales are endangered, with a population of only about 450 remaining,” Coast Guard Commander Claudia Gelzer said in a statement. “It is crucial for people on the water to help protect the whales by adhering to the 500-yard restriction area and vessel speed restrictions.”

A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone is in effect 12 nautical miles east of Boston to protect right whales through May 3, NOAA Fisheries said.

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