I am occasionally asked if buying a right whale license plate really helps whales. The answer is: yes! The Massachusetts Environmental Trust has made many grants from proceeds of the plate to support whales and whale habitat and a grant that begins this July is especially important.
This summer, MET is supporting the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and other partners as they provide critical services and research to protect endangered whales. The grant will fund the following efforts.
• Operating the large whale rescue team that disentangles whales from fishing gear or other marine debris. This highly trained team, which disentangled a right whale in April in Cape Cod Bay, conducts the dangerous work of cutting entanglements by hand from animals that weigh up to 70 tons. Entanglements are a life-threatening situation for whales as lines can interfere with swimming, feeding, and cause infections.
• Flying aerial surveillance missions to find whales in Massachusetts waters and report their presence to resource managers and shipping interests. Collisions with ships are a leading cause of mortality. One of this year’s flights identified a record 124 North Atlantic right whales on one day in and around Cape Cod Bay. The waters of Cape Cod Bay and the Great South Channel are one of the most important areas for this species. These flights allow researchers to identify individuals, find this year’s calves and mothers, and help assess the current population. There are an estimated 475 North Atlantic right whales and more than half were spotted in Massachusetts waters at some time during this spring. (DMF’s Erin Burke blogged about this earlier this month. LINK TO BLOG POST)
• Conducting vessel-based studies. Understanding the aggregations of the right whale populations in Cape Cod Bay begins with understanding their food. The geography and conditions of these waters are ideal for developing dense populations of copepods – a right whale’s favorite food. Massachusetts scientists sample the waters of the bay to better understand how our waters sustain some of the largest and rarest animals on earth. When whales are in the area, our partners also utilize vessels to observe, identify, and count whales. See Erin’s post earlier this year on this work. http://environment.blog.state.ma.us/blog/2011/03/the-whales-are-back-in-town.html
So, yes – buying a whale tail license plate really does help whales. The plates are supporting the scientists and rescuers who are on the front lines of the long fight to save this iconic species.
SAVE THE DATE:
Our partners at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies are holding their first annual Whale Week from July 25 to 30 in Provincetown. There will be a whole week of events and activities to celebrate all of the whales that visit Massachusetts waters.
To Learn More: Division of Marine Fisheries right whale program http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/programsandprojects/ritwhale.htm#right
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies http://www.coastalstudies.org/
New England Aquarium right whale research http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/endangered_species_habitats/right_whale_research/index.php
Right whale plates at the Registry of Motor Vehicles www.mass.gov/rmv/express/whale.htm
The View from Massachusetts posted on Sep 17
While Massachusetts can claim significant success in urban river revitalization, dam removal, cranberry bog naturalization and stream flow restoration, globally there are daunting challenges to restore highly impacted or vanishing ecosystems that will test the acumen of ecologists, engineers and politicians for years to come.
2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September posted on Sep 12
September’s photo contest winner was Gary Kamen, who photographed Mount Warner Vineyard in Hadley. Mount Warner Vineyards is a farm-winery located in Hadley, a small town in the beautiful Pioneer Valley. Operated by Gary and Bobbie Kamen, their philosophy is to recognize the unique characteristics of …Continue Reading 2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September
Calling All Shuckers! posted on Sep 3
Do you know where the oysters you ate at the raw bar last night were grown? Do you know how oysters are grown? Oysters naturally inhabited the eastern coast dating back to the 1700s, but due to over-harvesting, disease, and habitat loss, wild oysters have …Continue Reading Calling All Shuckers!