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Endangered whale species sinks cruise ship visit

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 2 - 2009

rightwhalemombabyFriday evening Rockland Maine officals were told that Royal Caribbean had to scrap plans to call on the port this summer. The cruise line stated that Grandeur of the Seas could not call on the city due to new federal restrictions that limits vessels to no greater than 10 knots (11.5 miles) per hour in seasonal management areas imposed to protect the North Atlantic right whale.

The seasonal management area restriction runs from March 1 through July 31. That protective area extends off Cape Cod and the cruise ship would have passed through it on the trip to Rockland. The average cruising speed for the Grandeur of the Seas is 22 knots. The restriction is not expected to have any impact on the still scheduled arrival of another Royal Caribbean vessel, Jewel of the Seas, which is scheduled to make a port call in Rockland on October 4.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only 300 North Atlantic right whale exist despite more than 60 years of protection. The whales had been hunted for at least 800 years, according to NOAA. There are only five areas where these whales are believed to congregate: coasts of Georgia and Florida, Stellwagen Bank and Cape Cod Bay, the Great South Channel east of Cape Cod Bay, the Bay of Fundy, and the Scotian Shelf.

Ships are one of the biggest threats to right whales, which are slow swimmers and hang out near the surface of the water, where they’re susceptible to being hit. In December, NOAA announced the speed restriction due to 25 right whale deaths due to ship strikes.

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