Whales, and other marine mammals, are protected under federal laws. So what do you need to know?
Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Protects ALL marine mammal species.
- Prohibits harming or harassing any marine mammal.
- Harassment includes anything that can change the animal’s natural behavior.
- Examples of illegal harassment can include: cutting off a whale’s path, interrupting feeding behaviors, attempting to swim-with or feed any marine mammal, approaching too closely and causing an animal to leave the area, etc.
Endangered Species Act
- Protects endangered and threatened marine mammal populations.
- Includes most large whales in the North Atlantic (humpback, fin, sei, and right whales).
- Provides additional protections to reduce human-caused harm or harassment.
Special Note: North Atlantic Right Whale Protections
- North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with a population of approximately 500 animals.
- Right whales are especially susceptible to collisions with vessels.
- Strict federal and state regulations prohibit approaching right whales closer than 500 yards (1500 feet– about the length of 3 football fields).
- Vessels 65 feet and greater must also slow to 10 knots during seasonal management areas. For more info, click HERE.