Boaters are being asked to take precautions around Martha’s Vineyard after several right whales were seen breaching not far from the island in recent days.
Officials announced the new slow zone in place south of the Vineyard on Monday. 7NEWS later spoke with one of the scientists aboard the New England Aquarium aerial survey plane that spotted the whales, who explained officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration establish such slow zones to warn boaters that whales are present.
Speaking this week, associate research scientist Orla O’Brien, who was aboard the plane, said it’s crucial to protect the endangered right whales.
There are less than 350 right whales alive today, according to O’Brien. One of their major causes of death, O’Brien said, is collisions with boats.
This is not the first whale sighting even in recent months.
Over the summer, several whales were seen off the coast of Plymouth. One breached and landed on a boat full of people.
Then, just last week, three right whales were spotted in the Cape Cod Canal, forcing the waterway to completely shut down.
“We’ve seen whales come in larger numbers in the last month and we’ve seen evidence of feeding so that’s why they’re there,” O’Brien said.
With more and more whales making their home near Massachusetts, scientists have said they’re hopeful the slow zones will keep them safe and sound at sea.
The new slow zone off Martha’s Vineyard is expected to be in effect through at least March 25.
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