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Marine Mammals


Whales occur regularly in the waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard, although they are seldom visible from land.  When they wash up on a Vineyard beach, they probably are already dead.  All whales are federally protected and should be left alone.  
If you find one please call the New England Aquarium's 24-hour Marine Animal Rescue Hotline: (617) 973-5247 as soon as possible.  The New England Aquarium will call one of its trained volunteers, who will then collect as much information as possible about the animal.
The photo on the right is of a dead 55 foot long finback whale that washed up on Norton Point in January 2005.  When healthy, this whale may have weighed as musch as 55 tons.  Numerous experts came from across the state to study this carcass, hoping to learn more about whale ecology and why this individual died.

Several species of seals are regularly found in Vineyard waters.  Harbor seals are probably the most common (pictured swimming at the left) and gray seals are almost as common.  Other species that you may encounter include harp seals and hooded seals.

Many of these seals come ashore on a regular basis.  So finding a seal on the beach as you are strolling alonmg does not mean that it is not healthy.  Please leave these animals alone since approaching them will cause additional stress to these wild animals.  And please keep dogs away from them.

More Information ...

Marine Mammal Stranding Information from the New England Aquarium

Biological information about many of our seals and whales from The Whale Center of New England, located in Gloucester, MA.

Biological information about harbor seals, our most common seal, from SeaWorld

Biological information about humpback whales and right whales from the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown or from the Fisheries Division of the Federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Organizations that offer whale watching trips from Plymouth, Hyannis (Barnstable Harbor), Provincetown,Boston, and Gloucester

The County of Dukes County PO Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: 508.696.3840    Fax: 508.696.3841
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