Jersey Shore boaters: NOAA establishes speed zone to protect group of endangered whales

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A voluntary vessel speed restriction is in effect for waters off the New Jersey coast to protect a group of endangered whales spotted on Wednesday.

The aggregation of eight right whales was detected east of the Jersey Shore, according to NOAA Fisheries, the agency that issues restrictions.

NOAA requests that marines avoid the area or transit at 10 knots or less through the zone through June 1, below (coordinates: 40 32 N / 39 51 N / 072 46 W / 071 49 W).

The agency also requests that boaters remain at least 500 yards from any spotted right whales.

Right whales generally feed from spring to fall by opening their mouths and swimming through large patches of zooplankton just below the surface, according to NOAA.

The species is listed as endangered. Through aerial surveys, NOAA estimates nearly 500 right whales in the western Atlantic Ocean between Florida and Canada.

A record number of right whales have been spotted in the Cape Cod Bay this spring. A right whale recently died in that area due to a ship strike.

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