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A rare sight: 98 whales spotted near Rhode Island

Archival photo: Right whales in 2006. From US Government, posted at Wikimedia

KW: One article states that right whales often swim near Long Island, but these whales have not visited there. I have several thoughts about what might be up with these whales: A. Could it have something to do with changes in the water due to the Gulf Oil Spill? Maybe the whales are fleeing or re-directing? B. Maybe some of these whales used to hover near Long Island, though, they heard what we did to the recently stranded humpback baby whale, and they are avoiding us?

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News at the Boston Globe: here.

98 right whales spotted off R.I. coast
Scientists say animals were drawn by a large supply of food
By Carolyn Y. Johnson / Globe Staff / April 24, 2010

A circular patch of smooth water spotted in Rhode Island Sound this week led scientists to a surprising discovery: a quarter of the entire North Atlantic right whale population is hanging out and feeding in a spot where the endangered animals are not usually seen…

In total, researchers found 98 whales in the waters east of Block Island, including two pairs of mothers and calves.

“It is really quite a bit higher [number of whales] than you find, even in places where you expect to find them,’’ said Charles “Stormy’’ Mayo, senior scientist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. Recently in Cape Cod Bay, where the whales regularly migrate to feed, “the highest numbers we’ve had have been over 70, and we thought that was mind-blowing.’’…

Their presence has caused local boaters to be on alert. The state Division of Marine Fisheries sent out a notice to boat operators, urging them to reduce their speed to 10 knots and exercise caution in the waters around Martha’s Vineyard. Federal and state laws also prohibit coming within 500 yards of the whales, an endangered species whose population is estimated at 400…

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