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FINAL Right Whale Migration Update: May 9, 2001

Today's Report Includes:

Greetings from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary -

Courtesy of
East Coast Ecosystems.

While the whales have left the Bay, maybe for their further migration north into the northern parts of the Gulf of Maine we are busy here at the Sanctuary preparing our new Web site! Please take some time this summer to catch up on all our whale news at the new Stellwagen Bank Web site opening soon.

It has been a year that we can really celebrate!! More than 26 calves sighted, this has been a record year for new births! Will this

be the boost that the population needs, and can we expect this to be a trend? Keep your interest and enthusiasm for learning about the endangered right whale and we will all keep our fingers crossed!

What's Next for the Whales?
As food supplies are consumed in the Cape Cod Bay, whales will be moving northward into the Bay of Fundy, the Roseway Basin and points beyond. The Bay of Fundy lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Roseway Basin lies north of Brown's Bank, the underwater ledge rich in nutrients and fresh food for the right whales.

Take a look at a map of these protected waters.

The Whales are Clearly Outside of Cape Cod Bay
The latest report from the Right Whale Manadatory Ship Reporting System show that the whales have moved out of the Bay. Here's their report:

5/9/01 - The NMFS aerial team surveyed in the Wilkinson Basin to Sharrer's Ridge area and the northern part of the Great South Channel. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) R/V surveyed in the Great South Channel. TOTAL RWs for day, 13 (including 2 mother & calf pairs)

Try This!
Get out your atlas or map of the Gulf of Maine and find these coordinates, 42.24N -69.70W. Can you imagine Wilkinson's Basin and Sharrer's Ridge lying below the ocean surface?

Summertime Sanctuary Safety
The Sanctuary is making efforts to protect feeding whales when and if they visit the Stellwagen Bank this summer. A joint federal-state partnership begins regular law enforcement patrols, the first of which went out Friday, May 11.
For the first time, Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) patrol boats will provide a visible presence in the Sanctuary, particularly on busy weekend days when commercial and recreational boats jockey for position around local whales. MEP officers are cross-deputized to work in federal waters, and can enforce federal environmental regulations, particularly ones to protect endangered marine mammals and other Sanctuary resources.

This cooperative effort between the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, and the NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement will serve to educate the boating public while documenting Sanctuary uses and will provide a regular marine "cop on the beat" to enforce Sanctuary regulations.

"See A Spout, Watch Out"
The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary will also be actively promoting a new boating safety program entitled "See A Spout, Watch Out" during the patrols and at other venues where boaters are present. This outreach effort has been developed in conjunction with the International Wildlife Coalition of Falmouth, MA and is a key component of the Sanctuary's overall interpretive enforcement effort. The campaign features four easy to remember safety tips to keep you and whales safe.
To review the material, please visit the IWC web site.

Three Cheers for Cooperation!
Right Whale Manadatory Ship Reporting System is a project instituted in July 1999 for large vessels to report in to when they transit right whale critical habitat areas. They receive precautionary guidance about navigating 'near' right whales and the latest locations where whales were observed.

One of the neat things about the program is the cooperation between many different organizations working together to save our right whales. Some of the groups include the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Feeding Location Revealing- Discussion of Challenge Question #12
Samples of marine organisms from throughout the Bay area are analyzed to determine which plankton are present and where the highest concentrations of them are found. Monitoring where the whales are feeding helps us understand the bay's currents. We asked, "What does the change in feeding location of the whales imply about the currents in the Cape Cod Bay?"

Whales were feeding at the 7 o'clock position in the bay one week this spring, then found at the 12 o'clock position two weeks later. The plankton moved with the currents in the bay in a counter-clockwise direction!

Where's Calvin? Discussion of Challenge Question #13
Calvin, the right whale that was first sighted on February 2nd entangled with a dark green rope has been an interesting animal to follow this season. The weather and Calvin's temperament have made it impossible for rescue crews to cut the rope free, but rescue crews were able to tag Calvin for tracking.

We asked this question, "Calvin is enjoying a feast at a popular feeding site for right whales. Can you compare maps and identify where Calvin is finding food on April 24th?"

Calvin must have found some good food in the area between Cashes Ledge and Browns Bank in the Gulf of Maine. Luck is with us, as the satellite is still functioning, and we can still follow Calvin's feeding route. If you take a look again at the map you'll se that Calvin must have found more food straight east of Cape Cod!

Where's Calvin Now?
The Cooperating agencies that are part of the Mandatory Ship Reporting System and were tracking Calvin the past few months made a discovery on May 8. Here is their report:

5/8/01 - The NMFS aerial teams surveyed the middle & southern portion of the Great South Channel. The CCS ship team conducted a habitat survey in Cape Cod Bay. The Coast Guard reported a sighting in the Gulf of Maine west of Wilkinson Basin. The satellite tag which was attached to the gear trailing the entangled whale has been located without the whale, damaged and with ~90ft of line attached. TOTAL RWs for the day,:35 (inc. 3 mother & calf pairs)

To view the map showing the sightings:

Calvin somehow escaped from the holds of the rope and satellite tag! Let's just hope that Calvin is safely free of the entire rope!

A Big Thank You!
We couldn't bring you accurate right whale news without the help of Anne Smrcina in the northern migration grounds at Stellwagen Bank, and New England Aquarium's Chris Slay reporting in from the calving grounds off the coast of Georgia and Florida!

Also, it is the Journey North students who, by getting involved with the fight for the survival of this endangered species, deserve a big thank you from the whales.

Stellwagen Has New Web Site- Come Visit!
Be sure to check out the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary's new web site, with information about Sanctuary whales, fish and other species. We hope to expand our sections on personal experiences in the Sanctuary and art/poetry about marine resources, so send us your contributions. You may find your work published on the web!
Our address is: http://stellwagen.nos.noaa.gov.

Year-End Evaluation: We'd Appreciate Your Thoughts!
Please take a few minutes to share your suggestions and comments in our Year-End Evaluation Form below. The information you provide at the end of each year is the single most important tool used to guide our planning.

Journey North
Year End Evaluation
Please share your thoughts

This is the FINAL Right Whale Migration Update for 2001. We hope you have enjoyed learning about these endangered marine mammals this spring. Have a great summer! Thanks for your participation.

Copyright 2001 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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