STATE HOUSE (Boston, Mass.) – Massachusetts has declared April 24 as Right Whale Day in an effort to boost awareness about the endangered species. North Atlantic right whales number fewer than 350, according to federal fisheries estimates.
“The North Atlantic right whale is part of our rich maritime history and yet our official state marine mammal is at risk of extinction. Establishing this annual day to celebrate right whales will help promote education and protection efforts,” said Rep. Josh S. Cutler (D-Duxbury), lead sponsor of the legislation. The bill (H. 3869) was signed in law by outgoing Gov. Charles Baker in one of his final acts before leaving office.
Rep. Cutler credited his constituent Matt Delaney of Pembroke for bringing the idea to him to dedicate a day for the rare whales after being inspired by a personal encounter. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth).
The New England Aquarium, which has long dedicated efforts to study and protect the Right Whales, praised the passage of the bill.
“More than 40 years of scientific research from the New England Aquarium shows that human impacts, specifically entanglements in fixed fishing gear and vessel strikes, are driving North Atlantic right whales toward extinction. Massachusetts has a major role to play in the survival of this critically endangered species, given the importance right whales have played in the state’s history, culture, and natural environment. The newly created Right Whale Day will help increase awareness for this species’ plight, providing additional opportunities to educate the public about the urgent need to protect these incredible animals that spend much of the year in and around Massachusetts waters,” stated Vikki N. Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium.
Plans are underway to commemorate the inaugural Right Whale Day later this year.