Mariners urged to beware as endangered whales gather off US

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NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — The federal government is asking Atlantic Ocean vessels to slow down in an area off Massachusetts because about one-eighth of the worldwide population of an endangered whale has been spotted nearby.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 50 North Atlantic right whales were seen south of Nantucket Island on Jan. 31. The agency has enacted a voluntary speed restriction until Feb. 15.

The government is encouraging mariners not to travel faster than 10 knots, or 11.5 mph, The Boston Globe reported. Collisions with vessels are a major concern for the animals, which are also threatened by entanglement in fishing gear.

There are only about 400 of the whales left in the world. Their population was devastated by whaling, which is now illegal. Their population remains in jeopardy because of recent high mortality and poor reproduction.

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