Share story

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — The federal government is asking boaters to slow down in an area south of Martha’s Vineyard to make way for a small group of endangered whales.

Three North Atlantic right whales were spotted in the area, which is 19 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is announcing a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone in the area until May 9.

The agency asks mariners to avoid the area or transit through it at 10 knots or less. The request is designed to help reduce ship strikes, which are one of the major causes of death for right whales. The other is entanglement in fishing gear.

There are only about 450 North Atlantic right whales left, and they experienced high mortality last year.