As a result of the ongoing presence of endangered right whales feeding in Cape Cod Bay, the Division of Marine Fisheries has announced that most of Cape Cod Bay will remain closed to the setting of recreational and commercial traps and pots for an additional week, through until May 7. Right whales are common in Cape Cod Bay during late winter and early spring, especially during the months of March and April, and usually depart before May 1, when the three month (February-April) trap closure affecting this area was scheduled to be lifted. However, over the past month an unprecedented number of whales have been observed, with mid-April counts demonstrating a presence of more than 200 whales. While the most recent survey suggests some whales may have departed the bay, an estimated 100 to 200 individuals remain . This late seasonal presence of whales corresponds with extraordinarily high densities of plankton, the preferred food of right whales and because these right whales are intensely feeding near the surface they can be somewhat oblivious to their surroundings and are highly vulnerable to entanglements in vertical buoy lines as well as vessel strikes.
Photo Credit: NOAA