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Federal officials urge boaters to be cautious about right, humpback whales

Watch out for the whales.

The fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the New England region on Friday tweeted out that “Humpback #whales are showing up all along our coasts! Please keep everyone safe and follow the law by giving them space to behave naturally.”

The agency also known as NOAA urged boaters to keep their vessels at least 100 feet from the whales, or 600 feet “if other boats are around. Space prevents accidental collisions and helps you adhere to the law.”

North Atlantic right whales need even more room. “Please note: North Atlantic right whales require 500 yards of space,” regulators tweeted.

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The agency also included a link to its advisory regarding speed restrictions for certain vessels in areas where North Atlantic right whales gather, including in waters south of Nantucket, where aerial spotters recently saw a group.

Vessels 65 feet or longer must travel at a speed of 10 knots or less in some coastal areas, depending on the season, “. . . to reduce the likelihood of deaths and serious injuries to these endangered whales that result from collisions with ships,” the advisory said.

The speed restrictions for waters south of Nantucket remain in effect until Aug. 18, according to NOAA Fisheries.

“Mariners are requested to route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.”

The Globe reported in January that with an endangered population of slightly more than 400, right whales are considered to be one of the rarest marine mammals in the world, according to NOAA officials. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Since the start of June, eight right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters, the Globe reported last month.


Emily Sweeney and Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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