April 23, 2011 by Post Team
So far this season, which runs from January through May, more than 200 whales have been seen, which, represents almost half the population of these species.
The total so far is the same tracking number for the entire 2010 season, said Laura Ganley, flight coordinator for right whale research program at the Center for Coastal Studies Provincetown.
Air on Tuesday turned up in 101 sightings of individual whales, most of the constancy of a single flight.
With another aerial survey scheduled for Friday and at least a few more after that, Ganley said the researchers hope their Northern right whale count increase.
“Seeing so many right whales as close to the coast is very important for researchers,” said Ganley.
Whales have even been seen from the beaches of Provincetown, just 50 or 100 yards from shore where the water deepens quickly.
Right whales are large endangered whales in the North Atlantic, with about 473 left in the population, according to experts.
Researchers can identify individual whales and rough skin pattern called whale lice in the head, Ganley said.
Large mammals – most adults are about 50 feet long and weigh 70 tons – are attracted to the waters of Cape Cod to feed on zooplankton, which is more abundant in spring. New whales have been seen among the recognizable whales return, researchers said.
“I would not be here if the food was not very big,” said Erin Burke, a specialist protected species in the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
In mid-April, the festival of whales in particularly fat, plankton near or just below the water surface, increasing the risk of being beaten up by passing boats or recreational business.
Ship strikes account for about half of right whale deaths caused by humans, with the rest of the plot, said Burke.
Once the food supply is exhausted, perhaps within a week, right whales are expected to spend a summer and fall feeding habitats in the Gulf of Maine.
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