Navy officials step up patrols off Plymouth to keep whales and boaters safe

PLYMOUTH – Boaters will see more patrols in the waters off Plymouth this weekend with interest in a pod of humpback whales who have fed in recent weeks.

We went looking for the three now infamous juveniles with the Massachusetts Environmental Police, but the whales weren’t making themselves known to us.

It’s just that kind of interest and a few recent close encounters that has caused local, state and federal agencies to join forces to spread the word about safety, especially with a harbor full of boaters and other expected this week-end.

A video has gone viral showing a whale breaching and landing on the bow of a boat. “If you know whales are in the area, slow your boat down to give yourself time to react if a whale comes in front of you,” Plymouth Harbor Master Chad Hunter said.

The whales are coming for an abundance of baitfish that are off the waters right now, competing with fishermen for their fill. “Stripes feed on pogies, whales feed on pogies, it’s a food web that’s displayed in front of you,” Hunter said.

“It’s like going whale watching without having to go anywhere in our backyard, it’s pretty awesome,” said John Robillard, who rents a home in the area.

Environmental police will be among the agencies in force to make sure boaters keep their distance, at least 100 feet, and ask boaters to put their boats in neutral until the whales move away.

“It’s unusual, so we have a lot more people who have never done this before and don’t know how to do it properly,” angler Mark Driscoll said.

Officers pay close attention to whales, but the amazing creatures don’t do the same.

“They don’t pay attention to anything other than the food that may be around them,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

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