February 9, 2014:Â Yesterday afternoon researchers from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown spotted a right whale 1140, known to local researchers as â€œWartâ€, in Cape Cod Bay.
Wart is one of the iconic whales of Cape Cod Bay; she was freed from a life-threatening entanglement by the Centerâ€™s Marine Animal Entanglement Response team in 2010, and three year later, in January 2013, she was spotted in Cape Cod Bay with a new born calf â€“ a rare occurrence, as right whales usually give birth in the warmer waters off Georgia and Florida.
On Saturday the Centerâ€™s right whale aerial research team spotted Wart during the teamâ€™s regular survey of Cape Cod Bay.
â€œThis season we have identified a total of three right whales that are known to have given birth last winterâ€ said the projects flight coordinator. â€œThe other two whales have been identified as Catspaw, and Piper.â€
Dr Charles â€œStormyâ€ Mayo, Director of the Centerâ€™s Right Whale research program, commented â€œThe sighting of Wart reminds us that Cape Cod Bay is important both to a large part of the remaining population of this extremely rare whale and also to the mature female whales on which the future of the species depends.â€
The Center has conducted right whale research in Cape Cod Bay since the early 1980s. Every winter since that time between one third and half of the total right whale population, now estimated to number 510, has been documented in the bay by CCS scientists.
Unfortunately a significant decrease in Federal funding has severely curtailed the teamâ€™s research activities; right whale habitat research cruises have been slashed from 16 per season to just four, and the number of aerial survey hours has also been cut.
â€œThere is no doubt that the reduction in funding will adversely affect our work on these nearly extinct animals,â€ said Mayo. â€œThe right whales are appearing in Cape Cod Bay earlier, and staying longer and we need to find out why that pattern is changing.â€ Mayo added, â€œThe future of the right whales of the North Atlantic Ocean depends in large part how well we understand the impact on the whales of the changing environmental conditions of their critical habitat in Cape Cod Bay.â€
Right whale research is conducted in partnership with Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and supported by a grant from MA-DMF and by funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, private foundations and CCS members. All right whale research activities are conducted under NOAA Fisheries permit 14603, under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts.
Boaters are reminded that it is illegal to approach within 500 yards of a right whale without a federal permit.
Right whale images are taken under NMFS permit #14603 under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.