NOAA extends protective area for rare whales

Right whale is seen skim feeding with the NOAA ship Delaware II in the background. Photo courtesy NOAA

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) – The federal government is extending a protective zone designed to keep rare whales safe until close to the end of the month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the area is south of Nantucket, where a large group of North Atlantic right whales was spotted earlier this month.

The agency says the protective zone will be in effect until Feb. 24.

NOAA is asking mariners to route around the area or transit through it at 10 knots of less.

There are only about 400 of the whales left in the world.