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Erin Burke

Erin Burke

Protected Species Specialist, Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF)

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The endangered North Atlantic right whale has started arriving in Cape Cod Bay! After deploying our acoustic monitoring buoys in December 2009, the bay had been largely silent…until recently. During an aerial survey conducted by plane on February 2, observers spotted 27 whales in the bay. (The Division of Marine Fisheries partners with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies to conduct aerial and vessel surveillance of the right whales and their habitat.)

Right Whales in Cap Cod Bay

Before the survey, the Listen for Whales website showed the buoys in the shipping lanes detecting calls, while the bay was quiet. So we knew that right whales were poking around the Gulf of Maine – they just hadn’t ventured into Cape Cod Bay yet. Now, the buoys in the bay detect dozens of calls every day. Click here to find out where in Cape Cod Bay the whales were detected.

The photo was taken during the survey under National Marine Fisheries Service permit 633-1763, issued under the authority of the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Food lures right whales back to the bay each year. The species of zooplankton they feed on changes as the season progresses. Currently, they’re munching on a species that lives in the middle of the water column, but around April, they switch to a species that hangs out at the water’s surface. That’s when they start skim feeding – a spectacular behavior they often do close to beaches in Provincetown and Sandwich.

I’ll keep you posted about any whale-watching opportunities from shore!

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Recent Posts

The Turtles are Coming posted on Aug 29

The Turtles are Coming

With a migration pattern that stretches thousands of miles, it is no surprise that Massachusetts is home to four types of turtles during the summer, all of them protected by local and international law. And while you probably know that sea turtles often frequent the Massachusetts beaches, can you identify them?

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August posted on Aug 25

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: August

Augusts’ Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest winner was Cara Peterson, who photographed a high tunnel greenhouse at Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster.

Not From Around Here: Green Crabs posted on Aug 22

Not From Around Here: Green Crabs

As part of its work to assess salt marsh health, staff from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) have frequently observed abundant green crabs, often burrowing in the banks of marsh creeks. This summer, CZM is examining the potential impacts of green crabs in salt marsh habitats, including the impact of burrowing activity.