Slow Down: Whale Crossing | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Slow Down: Whale Crossing

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Endangered whales off the coast of Virginia and Maryland are getting a break, as federal agents are telling ships to slow down for the creatures.

There are only about 350 northern right whales left on the planet.

They suffer from falling birthrates, something that scientists haven't figured out, but another way their numbers can fall is by collision with large ships. That's why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has set a seasonal speed limit of 10 knots--that's about 12 miles per hour--for large commercial ships in certain zones from Rhode Island to Georgia.

The limits are in effect from November through April.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that six vessels have been cited for a total of 42 violations in the last year, with fines ranging from $16,000 to $44,000 per company.

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