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New voluntary right whale speed restriction zone off Virginia

by NOAA Fisheries 12 Feb 16:31 UTC
Dynamic Management Area - DMA © NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries announces that a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) has been established 54 nautical miles east-southeast of Virginia beach, Virginia to protect an aggregation of three right whales sighted in this area on January 26, 2018.

Mariners: Please route around this area or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

East-Southeast of Virginia Beach, Virginia DMA through February 10, 2018
36 53 N
36 14 N
075 18W
074 29 W

This DMA in addition to the previously announced DMAs announced on January 25 off Virginia and January 23 south of Nantucket.

Please report all right whale sightings to 866-755-NOAA (6622).

Right Whales in Crisis

The year 2017 was devastating for North Atlantic right whales, which suffered a loss of 17 whales - about 4 percent of their population - an alarming number for such a critically endangered species with a population currently estimated at about 450 animals.

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an "Unusual Mortality Event," which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

On January 22, the first right whale mortality of 2018 was spotted off the Virginia coast.

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