Right Whales Spotted North of Oak Bluffs; Mariners Urged Caution

Mariners are being urged to proceed with caution through the waters of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket following the probable sighting Sunday of three right whales north of Oak Bluffs.

The whales were spotted two and three miles offshore, said Tim Cole, a fisheries biologist with the National Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole.

Less than 450 Atlantic right whales are known to be in existence, making them one of the most endangered marine mammals in this area.

Two Right Whales Observed off Menemsha Coast

Normally, the Coast Guard is on the lookout for mariners in distress. But on Sunday crew members aboard a 270-foot cutter stationed in Portsmouth, Va. spotted a more welcome sight: two right whales swimming northwest of Menemsha in Vineyard Sound.

The sighting was made at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Dozens of Rare Whales Gather off South Beach

About 20 North Atlantic right whales were spotted south and southeast of the Vineyard on Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed. This is the second report of right whales seen near the Vineyard in a month.

On Feb. 15 six right whales were seen from the air halfway between the Vineyard and Nantucket. On the same day two more whales were seen swimming south of Nantucket.

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.”

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