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. The sightings were confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks the whales during migration. With only about four hundred in existence, right whales are considered to be nearly extinct and are subject to strict federal protection measures, including voluntary rerouting and reduced speeds for mariners in areas where the whales congregate. Marine scientists speculate that the whales are attracted to the plankton-laden waters around the Vineyard and Cape Cod Bay.

For those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them offshore, the whales are an inspiring sight. And we welcome them as the Vineyard’s newest visitors.