PEMBROKE, Mass. — The official marine mammal of Massachusetts is facing possible extinction and a local man wants to do something to help North Atlantic right whales survive.
Matt Delaney, of Pembroke, is working with his state representative, Josh Cutler (D-Pembroke), to pass a bill making April 24th Right Whale Day in Massachusetts.
Delaney recalled the day this giant mammal made such an impression on him and his family.
“I mean we were literally about 10 feet from the water’s edge when this thing swam by, and it looked like a submarine or something coming out of the water, raised its head and the eyeball came up. It was as big as a softball and then it went under.”
The family was at the beach to contemplate the loss of a loved one. It became a very powerful moment.
Delaney said his wife started tearing up with emotion after the witnessing the whale breach and felt the whale was sending a signal to the family about their grief.
That was on the 24th of April. Delaney said that date became known as Whale Day in their home.
“To have a 50–60-ton creature lift its entire body out of the water, it was an amazing thing,” added Delaney.
Now Delaney would like everyone to think of North Atlantic right whales on that date. “It’s right when a lot of whales are in our area, mostly done by the Cape.
He thinks that makes it the perfect day for an official whale day. “More people will learn that these things are critically endangered.”
Kara Mahoney Robinson of the New England Aquarium said right whales are in real jeopardy right now. “They’re numbers are below 350.”
She explained that right whales love to hug the coastline, particularly the busy waters up and down the Northeast. That’s left them susceptible to ship strikes and getting tangled in fishing gear.
The president of the Aquarium sent a letter to state leaders encouraging them to create Right Whale Day.
Robinson added, “I think it’s an opportunity for schools, libraries, non-profits and governmental organizations to latch on to the idea of protecting the right whale and really be able to make a big push to promote them.”
For Delaney, this is also about preserving a piece of the state’s maritime history. “They were first spotted and recorded by the pilgrims who said there were so many of them you could walk across the bay on their backs.”
As their numbers get perilously low, Delaney wants to do whatever he can to save them, admitting he loves the giant mammals.
“It’s a creature that needs to be saved and if we keep going on like we’ve been, there’s going to come a day when there’s none left.”
The bill has passed the House but if the Senate doesn’t act before the end of this legislative session on January 4th, it will die.
Matt Delaney told Boston 25 News he’s staying optimistic and that he’s ready to work with Representative Cutler to refile it next year if necessary.
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