North Atlantic right whales are one of the rarest whales on the planet with only about 500 individuals left. These amazing animals can be seen with consistency in Cape Cod Bay for part of the year (oftentimes even from shore!). They frequent the Bay between January and April (peak occurrence is typically March and April).
The majority of Cape Cod Bay (all except for the western portion) is deemed “critical habitat” for right whales under the Endangered Species Act, because it’s an important feeding area critical to their survival. NOAA Fisheries is currently considering expanding critical habitat to include the Bay in its entirety (as well as other areas off the east coast).
Right whales seem to be using the western part of the Bay more often in recent years, and it would be an important step in protecting right whales if this area could also be protected. Remember, the western part of the Bay is also where Pilgrim operates and is entraining billions of planktonic species with its cooling system (some of which is food for right whales), causing thermal pollution, and a variety of other real and potential problems. Read the comments we recently submitted to NOAA about the proposed critical habitat expansion, which address Pilgrim’s impacts.
Read more about right whales and why they use Cape Cod Bay in this blog post from last year: Cape Cod Bay: Right Whales, Right Place →
Over the past week, right whales have been sighted just outside Plymouth Harbor and off the coast of Plymouth. As of this morning, you can see them from shore! Check out the map of right whale sightings off the Plymouth shoreline since this past Sunday (April 26-30, 2015).
Take a ride to the coast this week – if you are lucky enough to see a right whale from shore, remember that you are seeing one of the rarest whales on the planet! But if you are on the water, keep in mind it is illegal to approach a right whale within 500 yards. To report right whale sightings, please call 1-866-755-NOAA (6622).
Any Right Whales close to shore in Plymouth area?