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More whales being hit by ships along East Coast

By Jim Fitzgerald

A cruise ship heading for New York this month struck and killed a whale and dragged it into the Hudson River, part of a higher-than-usual rate of strikes along the Eastern Seaboard for this time of year, a federal agency said.

There were three recent whale strikes recently, including one in which a cruise ship hit a sei (pronounced SAY) whale and did not discover it until it reached port, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

In a similar case, a sei whale was found dead and attached to a container ship that was docking near Philadelphia, NOAA said.

The whales may be following food sources closer to shore, NOAA said. An increased food supply has recently been cited for a large increase in the number of humpback whales off Massachusetts.

The agency issued a reminder to mariners of measures already in place to protect whales, including speed limits and distances.

"Nobody wants to hit a whale," said Marjorie Mooney-Seus, a spokeswoman. "So we want people to have a greater awareness that they're out there now."

The usual rate of whale strikes by ships is about one every few weeks, she said, compared with the three in the past few weeks.

A National Marine Fisheries Service survey covering 1975 through 2002 found 292 records worldwide of confirmed or possible ship strikes to large whales.

Rob DiGiovanni, who heads a marine mammal rescue group on Long Island, said he's seeing "more evidence of ship strikes and that's definitely a concern." In the past, his Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation would go a couple of years without seeing a large whale that had been hit by a ship.

"Now we get a couple a year," he said.

The New York cruise ship incident was discovered May 4, the Philadelphia case on May 7, Mooney-Seus said. She did not have details about the third recent strike except that it involved a fin whale; NOAA is investigating.

NOAA said there have been no recent reported strikes of endangered North Atlantic right whales.

DiGiovanni said his group hopes to study whether the numbers are up because there are more whales, more ships or a change in a food source, as suggested by NOAA.

In the coastal waters off Boston, large numbers of a fish called the sea lance have turned the mouth of Massachusetts Bay into a "whale feeding ground," said Laura Howes of Boston Harbor Cruises.

Twenty to 30 whales are being spotted on every whale watching excursion, 10 times the usual number.


Fitzgerald reported from White Plains, New York. Associated Press writer Paige Sutherland in Boston contributed to this report.

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Larry May 23 2014 at 7:04 PM

Interesting how a cruise ship could hit a whale, especially without knowing it, since they have both sonar and radar requirements, as far as I know.

Maybe Obama was in control, as with the VA, and will find out in the headlines.

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20 replies
nelsronit May 23 2014 at 8:36 PM

Don't believe it's any shock to most of us anymore that our waterways are nothing but either big dumping grounds for all sorts of toxic and deadly chemicals and other garbage in numerous amounts, to be used by large numbers of factories and Ships (both water and air) to use the waters for their private dumping stations. This means all fish must use some type of risk in looking for food during their travels. Our great grand kids will probably see the demise of whales and other large mammals. We're right on schedule for other fish to follow them by 2100. Too bad we never learned how to live with other animals.

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7 replies
Alisha May 23 2014 at 8:54 PM

why don't we give the Whales that are accidentally hit by ships to Japan. That way they can stop hunting them for food, I mean "Research".

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2 replies
swanderman Alisha May 24 2014 at 11:47 AM

Alisha, thanks for thinking,.....something that evades our governing bodies.

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kvave Alisha May 24 2014 at 11:50 AM

Japans Philosophy Scream "Hujjjo " and Eat EVERYTHING into extinction

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fjprovanjr May 23 2014 at 8:06 PM

o bumer had nothing to do with it,,,Bush did it,,,its his fault

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1 reply
doonooch fjprovanjr May 24 2014 at 6:38 AM

there's always some clown injecting petty American politics into a topic thats non-political and thinking their cute or funny. You look silly. give it a rest.

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3 replies
Hello Sonya May 23 2014 at 8:57 PM

The Whales like all animals are sensing something is going on (change) and they are heading for land and they think safety. With the changes in the atmosphere and weather patterns not being normal over the last few years, there is no wonder in why. It is too late to turn back the clock on our planets evolution and the changes that we are causing, but maybe we should keep watching the Whales, they know something that we don't.

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7 replies
Casper J Bone May 24 2014 at 4:16 AM

Why does every other person on here commenting about politics?! Perhaps you "lost and/or confused" need to re-read the article. Then try again.

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1 reply
mclkarim Casper J Bone May 24 2014 at 10:41 AM

That will be the day.

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acermaniac May 23 2014 at 9:33 PM

Maybe the whales are escaping an upcoming undersea volcanic eruption of enormous magnitude .. thus causing mass destruction to large coastal areas.

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perorbailey May 23 2014 at 10:11 PM

President Dr. Roger Payne
Ocean Alliance
We have an opportunity to act as a generation to do the right thing. If we fail to receive that opportunity, to act on it, then my feeling is, we will become the most vilified generation that's ever lived in human history.

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1 reply
DSTUTZ7541 perorbailey May 24 2014 at 9:44 AM

Please enlighten me on what opportunity that my generation is failing to act upon. This generation is the first generation to treat our domesticated animals as our "children". Personally, I don't participate in this thought process but I do respect and do not interject myself upon wildlife. While there will always be animal cruelty, it is hard for me to believe that these whales were hit intentionally. The reason that the whales are in the areas now is another matter.

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ronp304 May 23 2014 at 8:35 PM

They are getting away from the Fukashima radiation...something is up..like when the animals run from the forest....

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1 reply
gramargo ronp304 May 23 2014 at 10:46 PM

On the Atlantic Coast? Hardly! Probably just that the food sources are nearer shore where the ships also are.

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2 replies
mclkarim gramargo May 24 2014 at 10:48 AM

That is exactly what the article said.

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wmcbhere gramargo May 24 2014 at 12:29 PM

currents, sweetie

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qytime May 24 2014 at 12:02 PM

how about the whales that breach under small boats killing the people on board, and destroying the boat? how come that's never mentioned? it's payback time baby!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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