Conservation and Research

CCS and MA- Division of Marine Fisheries Cooperative Habitat Monitoring and Management

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CCS research team conducts monitoring activities aboard R/V Shearwater.

CCS right whale surveillance and monitoring activities are aimed at providing management agencies with information to assist in their time-critical decision making (e.g., amendments to seasonal gear restrictions or the issuance of vessel speed restrictions), intended to mitigate human impacts on right whales in the waters of Cape Cod Bay. Immediately following research cruises, post-cruise “Preliminary Assessments” and the more lengthy “Habitat Assessments” are distributed electronically to interested managers and colleagues; these documents provide descriptions, analyses and forecasts concerning the interaction of right whales, habitat conditions and potential risks.Detailed “Special Reports” are also used as a tool for exploring ecological phenomena of particular interest.

To address the need to alert DMF to conditions in Cape Cod Bay deserving immediate management attention, CCS disseminates critical observations and predictions through a rapid reporting system, or a “Right Whale Risk Alert” document. Within 12 to 24 hours of receipt of such a document from CCS, DMF issues “Advisories” to mariners explicitly detailing where right whales are aggregating, and subsequently where there is elevated risk of ship strike in Cape Cod Bay and adjacent waters.

This successful partnership demonstrates how science and management can merge, improving the odds that the North Atlantic right whale will recover from near extinction.

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This work is made possible by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries through ongoing support from NMFS and NOAA, and by the support of the Massachusetts Environmental Trust.

Research Projects

Are Right Whales Getting Enough Food?

The Influence of the Vertical Migration of Zooplankton on the Risk of Entanglement and Ship Strike to Right Whales (Eubalena glacialis)

The Ecology of Risk

Distribution and Risk Simulator (DARS)

For more information about these projects, please contact the right whale research team.