Endangered Whale Experiencing 'Mini-baby Boom' Off New England

Apr 13, 2019

An endangered species of whale is experiencing a mini-baby boom in New England waters, researchers on Cape Cod have said.

North Atlantic right whale with calf
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the rarest species of whale on the planet, numbering only about 411. But the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, said Friday that its aerial survey team spotted two mom and calf pairs in Cape Cod Bay a day earlier. That brings the number seen in New England waters alone this year to three.

That’s big news because the whale’s population has been falling, and no calves were seen last year. In all, seven right whale calves have been seen so far this year.

The whales give birth off Georgia and Florida in the winter and travel to feeding grounds off New England in the early spring, including the Gulf of Maine, a body of water that touches Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Canada.

Cape Cod Bay is part of the Gulf of Maine and is a critically important feeding ground. The animals often feed close to shore, providing watchers on land “unbeatable views of one of the rarest of marine mammals,” the Center for Coastal Studies said in a statement.

It’s illegal to get within 1,500 feet of the animals without a federal research permit, so boaters are discouraged from attempting to get close to the whales.