January 29, 2020
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‘Critically endangered’ whale species sighted off Maine coast

Michael Dwyer | AP
Michael Dwyer | AP
In this March 28, 2018, file photo, a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. A group of Democratic senators said in an April 25 letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the agency should conduct a review of Canada's right whale conservation standards, and consider prohibitions on some Canadian seafood imports if they are too weak. The right whales number only about 450, with 17 deaths in 2017 and 12 of which were in Canada.

Whales seen off the coast of Wells Sunday were identified as right whales, offering a rare local opportunity to see a member of the endangered sea species, according to local police.

“The whales that have been spotted off the coast of Wells are the North Atlantic right whale,” the Wells Police Department posted on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon. “This whale is a highly endangered whale and there are only a few hundred left in the world. We have been incredibly lucky to be able to get a glimpse at these beautiful creatures from our shore line.”

Scientists believe there are fewer than 400 right whales in the western North Atlantic, with adults approaching about 50 feet in length and often topping 70 tons. North Atlantic right whales migrate between winter calving areas off the coast of Florida and Georgia to feeding ground in the Labrador Sea northeast of Maine, according to federal researchers.

We have been receiving numerous reports of whales off our coast line. There have been some whales seen in the last few…

Posted by Wells Maine Police on Sunday, May 13, 2018

In Facebook posts, local police reminded beachgoers and boaters that “it is federal law not to harass or approach any marine mammals,” and used the sightings as an opportunity to highlight the importance of keeping “our beaches clean and our oceans healthy” by, in part, picking up litter along the coast.

The rare whales were seen off the coast of Massachusetts earlier this month, according to the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Massachusetts.

“This species is critically endangered,” read a post by the organization Marine Mammals of Maine after the discovery of a dead right whale off the coast of Boothbay Harbor in 2016. “The loss of any individual is detrimental to the population.”

Federal researchers consider ship collisions and entanglements with fishing gear to be the most significant threats to right whales.

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