Soundings

They come for the sun, sea and rich plankton that occurs in the ocean waters around the Island. This is the season when North Atlantic right whales migrate north to Cape Cod from their wintering grounds off Florida and Georgia. Last month eight of the endangered marine mammals were spotted near the Vineyard and Nantucket. Six were seen from the air swimming between the two Islands; the other two were seen south of Nantucket. Then early this week, twenty whales were seen swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off South Beach in Edgartown.

Rare Right Whales Move into Area, Mariner Restrictions in Place

Eight North Atlantic right whales have been spotted near Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in the past week, including six sighted from the air on Feb. 15 swimming between the two islands. The other two were seen south of Nantucket.

Dead Whale Washes Ashore

A 13-foot pilot whale washed up on Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark over the long weekend. Adam Kennedy, a senior biologist at the New England Aquarium, said the whale was likely dead when it washed ashore.

Mr. Kennedy said the animal was discovered half-buried in the sand by the tides last Friday. Only its head and front fin were visible; the rest of its body was obscured. The conditions were “very unusual,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Law to Protect Right Whales May Hamper Ferry Operations

Legislation designed to protect migrating right whales could have an unintended, devastating impact on ferry services to the Vineyard and Nantucket, the Steamship Authority has warned.

Under draft rules attached to the legislation, any sighting of a right whale would trigger the imposition of a strict, 10-knot speed limit on ships more than 65 feet long, operating within a so-called “dynamic management area” with a 36-mile radius, for 15 days from the time of the sighting.

Mystery Mammals

There is a whale of a tale in Edgartown.

Marine mammal madness is what I call it. Earlier this week, I received a call about a few animals that have been swimming around Edgartown harbor. The caller thought that they were either dolphins or pilot whales. Either one would be a good sighting and would make for a nice article.

Young Humpback Whale Pays a Surprise Visit to Edgartown

A juvenile humpback whale that made an errant visit and got stuck in Katama Bay on Sunday afternoon is believed to be okay and swimming the ocean. A group of Islanders, with help from the staff of the New England Aquarium, were able to monitor and eventually see the whale as it swam out into Nantucket Sound late Monday morning.

The 20-foot-plus whale, weighing 10 tons or more, was first spotted on Sunday afternoon by staff of The Trustees of Reservations at Norton Point. At the time it was thought the marine mammal was entangled and in distress in Katama Bay.

Stranded Pygmy Whale Washes Up on Chappaquiddick Beach

Last Friday Skip Bettencourt was strolling the Chappaquiddick side of the Norton Point breach with his wife, his dog and two friends when he stumbled across six feet of bloodied blubber. With the tooth-studded lower jaw of a sperm whale and the pointed snout of a shark, the animal cut an outlandish profile.

“We had no idea what it was,” he said. “It looked like it hadn’t been there that long, though.”

Scientists Study Bird, Sea Life Before Turbines Go Offshore

Wind farms have long provoked a certain cognitive dissonance among environmentalists, who favor renewable energy but oppose the negative impacts of turbines, including bird strikes and habitat displacement. The effects of turbines on bird populations are fairly well understood after a decade of European experience but less is known about their impact underwater, especially on local species of whales and sea turtles.

Wind Forum Stirs Debate as Task Force Remains Skeptical

With Rhode Island Sound now looming as the next frontier for wind development near the Vineyard, the Ocean State’s Gov. Donald Carcieri summed up his state’s energy policy this month with a single phrase: “Spin, baby, spin!”

Huge Group of Rare Whales Off Vineyard

An extraordinary group of right whales — some 95 living specimens of the rarest of all large whale species — was feeding in the waters between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island this week, while two mother and calf right whale pairs were spotted even closer to the Island.

On Saturday, federal scientists in the air saw one mother and calf pair just a mile or two off Oak Bluffs harbor, and on Tuesday, a distinct pair was spotted in Vineyard Sound.

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