East Coast whale watch

Atlantic mariners are warned to steer clear of endangered right whales

Courtesy Of NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service sent out an advisory to Atlantic mariners, warning them to keep watch for an endangered whale species.

Sightings of North Atlantic right whales (pictured) off the coasts of the Carolinas prompted the call to seafarers and signaled the early stages of the species’ annual migration from Canada and New England to the waters off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, where they give birth, reported the Jacksonville Daily News.

The biggest threats to the species’ survival are collisions with ships and fishing gear, which can ensnare the giant animals.

An estimated 300 right whales exist, making them one of the most critically endangered marine mammals in the world. In addition to cautioning vessels, the NOAA has instructed large ships to reduce their speeds along portions of the migratory pathway.