One New (Boston) and One Extended (Atlantic City) Slow Zone to Protect Right Whales

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NOAA Fisheries - New England - Mid Atlantic Bulletin

February 18, 2021

One New (Boston) and One Extended (Atlantic City) Slow Zone to Protect Right Whales

NOAA Fisheries announces a new voluntary right whale Slow Zone East of Boston, Massachusetts and an extension of the voluntary right whale Slow Zone southeast of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

On February 17, 2021, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Stellwagen slocum glider detected the presence of right whales 30nm east of Boston. The Boston Slow Zone is in effect through March 4, 2021. 

On February 18, 2021, Rutgers University's slocum glider detected the presence of right whales 20 nm southeast of Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Slow Zone is in effect through March 5, 2021. 

Mariners are requested to route around these areas or transit through them at 10 knots or less.  

Slow Zone Coordinates:

Southeast of Atlantic City, in effect through March 5, 2021

39 25 N
38 44 N
073 44 W
074 36 W 

East of Boston, in effect through March 4, 2021

42 40 N
42 00 N
069 57 W
070 52 W

See the coordinates for all the slow zones currently in effect.

slowzones EBoston &Atlantic City

Active Seasonal Management Areas November 1- April 30

Mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less (50 CFR 224.105) are in effect in the following areas:

Block Island Sound 

Ports of New York/New Jersey

Entrance to the Delaware Bay
(Ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington)

Entrance to the Chesapeake Bay 
(Ports of Hampton Roads and Baltimore)

Ports of Morehead City and Beaufort, NC

Within a continuous area 20-nm from shore between Wilmington, North Carolina, to Brunswick, Georgia.

Find out more and get the coordinates for each mandatory slow speed zone.

Give Right Whales Room

North Atlantic right whales are on the move along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. NOAA is cautioning boaters and fishermen to give these endangered whales plenty of room. We are also asking all fishermen to be vigilant when maneuvering to avoid accidental collisions with whales and remove unused gear from the ocean to help avoid entanglements. Commercial fishermen should use vertical lines with required markings, weak links, and breaking strengths. 

Right Whales in Trouble

North Atlantic right whales are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Scientists estimate there are only about 400 remaining, making them one of the rarest marine mammals in the world.

North Atlantic right whales are NOAA Fisheries' newest Species in the Spotlight. This initiative is a concerted, agency-wide effort to spotlight and save marine species that are among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. 

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an “Unusual Mortality Event,” which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

More Information

Recent right whale sightings

Find out more about our right whale conservation efforts and the researchers behind those efforts.

Download the Whale Alert app for iPad and iPhone

Acoustic detections in Cape Cod Bay and the Boston TSS, as well as other regions along the eastern seaboard.

Details and graphics of all vessel strike management zones currently in effect.

Reminder: Approaching a right whale closer than 500 yards is a violation of federal and state law. 

Spread the Word!

All boaters, or interested parties, can sign up for email notifications  and selecting "Right Whale Slow Zones" under the Regional New England/Mid-Atlantic subscription topics. You can also follow us on Facebook (@NOAAFisheriesNEMA) and Twitter (@NOAAFish_GARFO)  for announcements.

Watch our video on Right Whale Slow Zones.   

Recent Feature Stories about Right Whales

Listening for Right Whales in the Gulf of Maine

Make Way for Right Whales

10 Things You Should Know About Right Whales

Right whales aerial view


Media: Contact Jennifer Goebel, Regional Office, 978-281-9175