• Zone to protect rare whales off Mass. coast to stay in effect to late April

    Updated:

    NANTUCKET, Mass. -  The federal government is going to continue using a protected zone to try to help endangered whales travel safely until at least late April.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration established the zone south of Nantucket earlier this year to protect a group of right whales. The agency says the zone will remain in effect through April 23. Fifteen North Atlantic right whales were seen in the area April 7.

    The agency has asked mariners to travel around the area or transit through at 10 knots or less. The right whales are among the rarest large whales, and they number only about 411.

    The whales are vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. They've experienced poor reproduction and high mortality in recent years, putting the population at risk.

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