VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Boaters off the coast of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore are being asked to slow down after a recent sighting of five right whales.
A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone has been established by NOAA Fisheries to try and protect the group. Mariners are being asked to avoid to transit at 10 knots or less in the areas where right whales have been spotted. The speed restriction zone is in effect through April 24.
The whales were spotted April 10 approximately 69 nautical miles northeast of Virginia Beach.
NOAA Fisheries says 2017 was devastating for North Atlantic right whales with a total loss of 17 whales — about 4% of their population. Right whales are a critically endangered species with a population currently estimated at only about 450.
The first right whale mortality of 2018 was off the Virginia coast in January.