Freighters Must Brake for Endangered Whales Off US

Right whale get federal protection from speeding vessels

By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User

Posted Dec 9, 2008 1:32 PM CST

(Newser) – A new US law may save the world’s 400 remaining North Atlantic right whales from their worst enemy—large ships. Mariners will have to slow to 11.5mph as they slice through parts of the mammal’s migration path between New England and Florida, the Boston Globe reports. Since 2001, ships have struck a dozen of the endangered whales, which feed dangerously close to the surface.

The whales’ bloodied past is indicated in their namesake: They are the “right” whales to kill for oil because they float when dead. It took a decade-long battle to pass the federal measure, billed to reduce to 20% the odds of a whale dying after being struck.

A North Atlantic right whale model entitled Phoenix is seen in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.
A North Atlantic right whale model entitled "Phoenix" is seen in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.   (AP Photo)
A North Atlantic right whale model entitled Phoenix is seen in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.
A North Atlantic right whale model entitled "Phoenix" is seen in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
This photo shows one of two extremely endangered right whales off the Georgia coast that became injured after being entangled in marine gear.
This photo shows one of two extremely endangered right whales off the Georgia coast that became injured after being entangled in marine gear.   (AP Photo/National Marine Fishery Service, HO)
A rare North Atlantic right whale dives in Cape Cod Bay.
A rare North Atlantic right whale dives in Cape Cod Bay.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Three right whale tails are visible in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Mass., April 10, 2008.
Three right whale tails are visible in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Mass., April 10, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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