Wednesday, December 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The first confirmed sighting of rare North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay was recorded on Wednesday, December 12 by staff at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS). The two whales were spotted off Billingsgate in Wellfleet, skim feeding at the water’s surface.
North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis, are among the rarest of the baleen whale species, with a population of just 502. Cape Cod Bay is a rich feeding ground for these massive animals; in the first half of 2012, more than 315 individuals (over 60% of the entire population) were spotted in and around the Bay by Center researchers and aerial observers.
For the scientists at PCCS, this sighting heralds the beginning of the 2013 research season. For more than thirty years the Center has studied right whales and their use of Cape Cod Bay. Current programs include aerial surveillance, habitat and food resource monitoring, and investigations into the effects of long-term climate change on the population.
PCCS right whale research is conducted in partnership with Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Right whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to approach within 500 yards of a right whale. PCCS conducts research under federal permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 and dedicated to preserving coastal and marine ecosystems and providing educational activities that promote the responsible stewardship of our oceans.