Bermuda Triangle to Host Humpbacks

Bermuda Triangle to Become Humpback Whale Haven

Katherine Tweed, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor
Date: 02 September 2011 Time: 09:28 AM ET
humpback whales
Humpback whales feeding.

The Bermuda Triangle holds an often maligned and mysterious place in ocean lore, but for endangered humpback whales, it’s about to get a little more welcoming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced a letter of intent signed by the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection to establish a sister sanctuary to NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary for the gentle giants.

The sister sanctuary would not be the first for Stellwagen Bank, located in the Gulf of Maine, and its humpback whales. Beginning in 2007, Stellwagen established the world’s first sister sanctuary with the Dominican Republic’s Santuario de Mamiferos Marinos de la República Dominicana to protect the endangered migratory marine mammal on both ends of its range.

Whale populations

There are five distinct populations of humpbacks in the North Atlantic, with Stellwagen Bank being the feeding grounds for one of the groups. The other four are off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Norway, Greenland and Iceland. Down in the Caribbean, the whales mingle during breeding season, and one of the largest congregation spots is off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

But protecting just two points in the humpbacks’ range is not enough to ensure their survival. Bermuda will protect the species in its migratory corridor, rather than the furthest reaches of its range, the first marine mammal sanctuary to offer such a waypoint.

“This is a first step in putting together conservation stepping stones throughout their migration,” said Nathalie Ward, coordinator of the Sister Sanctuary Program for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

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