NOAA again extends protection zone to help right whales

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — The federal government is again stretching the duration of a protected area off of Massachusetts to try to keep endangered right whales safe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been using the protected area to try to keep a large group of North Atlantic right whales south of Nantucket from being harmed. The whales were first seen in the area in January.

NOAA has been asking mariners to transit the area at 10 knots or less, or to simply travel around it. The agency said Wednesday an aggregation of 11 of the whales was seen on Feb. 4, so the management area will be extended until Feb. 20.

The whales are believed to number no more than 411. Entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes are hazards they face.

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