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NOAA asks boaters to slow down for right whales off Virginia Beach coast

NOAA says the animals were spotted 69 nautical miles northeast of Virginia Beach
Credit: NOAA
Less than 500 North Atlantic right whales are left in the ocean, according to fisheries managers.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is asking mariners to slow down off of Virginia Beach to protect a group of five endangered right whales seen in the area.

NOAA says the animals were spotted 69 nautical miles northeast of Virginia Beach on Tuesday. It's asking vessels to route around the area entirely or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

There are also mandatory speed restrictions in place, including one in Cape Cod Bay and another off of Block Island.

Right whales suffered a devastating year in 2017, in which 17 of the animals died. Another died in January of this year. The animals number no more than 450 and have also been hampered by poor reproduction recently.