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New Voluntary Slow Speed Zone to Protect Right Whales South of Martha's Vineyard

April 26, 2018

NOAA Fisheries announces that the voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area or DMA) has been established to protect a group of three right whales sighted 19 nautical miles south of Martha's Vineyard on May 9.


Mariners are requested to avoid or transit at 10 knots or less inside the following areas where persistent aggregations of right whales have been sighted. Find out more about ship strike reduction efforts.

South of Martha's Vineyard -- In effect through May 9.

41 25 N
40 46 N
070 58 W
070 06 W 


Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) are in effect in the following areas:

Off Race Point in effect through April 30.

Cape Cod Bay SMA in effect through May 15.

Block Island SMA in effect through April 30.

New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk SMA in effect through April 30.

Great South Channel in effect through July 31.

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.

More Info:

Recent right whale sightings

Download the Whale Alert app for iPad and iPhone

Acoustic detections in Cape Cod Bay and the Boston TSS

Send a blank message to receive a return email listing all current U.S. DMAs and SMAs.

Details and graphics of all ship strike management zones currently in effect.

Reminder: Approaching a right whale closer than 500 yards in a violation of federal and state law. 

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

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, at 978-281-9175