Rare Right Whales Flock to Cape Cod
Plankton is especially plentiful this year
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2011 2:21 PM CDT
A lone North Atlantic right whale swims off Race Point at the northern tip of Cape Cod in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Mass., Thursday, April 10, 2008.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

(Newser) – There are only 473 North Atlantic right whales on the planet, but almost half of them have been spotted gorging themselves on an unusual feast off the coast of Cape Cod this year. "The current must be piling the plankton up," a scientist with the Center for Coastal Studies tells ABC News. "[There's] a patch of food, of unbelievable richness that's just stretching right along this edge. All these whales have their mouths open."

The right whale was hunted so mercilessly that only 100 remained when their slaughter was outlawed in 1935; the creatures, known as slow moving and gentle, have made a slow rebound since then. Scientists and whale watchers alike are thrilled; the whales are coming in close enough that observers can spot their distinctive bumpy heads from shore. "They're so big and magnificent, you just see them and ... it gives you chills," says a whale enthusiast. "They're amazing." (Click to read about another unusual East Coast whale sighting.)

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Apr 24, 2011 9:34 PM CDT
Nobody seems to know why they were called "right whales". It was because when you harpooned them they floated when they died instead of sinking out of sight. That made them the "right" kind of whale. Considering that little historical tidbit, it is no wonder how close they came to extinction.
Apr 24, 2011 4:01 PM CDT
"Right Whales Flock to Cape Cod" Hey I know a lot of right whales that flock to Cape Cod...it's not a pretty sight.
Apr 24, 2011 3:35 PM CDT
A pal went whale watching off the cape just last summer. Hearing the story her encounter with these most magnificent beasts, gives me chills. Spent most of my life living along the shore, and I ain't never seen a whale.