Extended and New Slow Zones to Protect Right Whales

NOAA Fisheries announces the extension of two Slow Zones set to expire south of Nantucket and establishes another Slow Zone southeast of Chatham, MA. On April 9, 2021 several aggregations of right whales were detected south of Nantucket, MA by the NOAA North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey and southeast of Chatham, MA by the Center for Coastal Studies survey team. These three right whale Slow Zones are in effect immediately through April 24, 2021.

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

Slow Zone Coordinates:

Southeast of Chatham, MA, April 9 – April 24, 2021 *NEW*

41 56 N
41 15 N
069 23 W
070 16 W

South of Nantucket, MA, February 26 – April 24, 2021 *Extended*

41 23 N
40 40 N
069 39 W
070 35W

South of Nantucket, MA, March 30 – April 24, 2021 *Extended*

41 01 N
40 19  N
069 50 W
070 46 W

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


Active Seasonal Management Areas

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

Cape Cod Bay, January 1 – May 15

Off Race Point, March 1 – April 30

Great South Channel, April 1 – July 31

November 1 – April 30

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.