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Protected area to help rare whales off Maine coast

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NOAA Fisheries
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North Atlantic right whale, one of the world's most endangered large whale species

North Atlantic right whales have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 1970.

Federal ocean managers say a rare species of whale has been detected east of Portland, Maine, and they are using a special protected zone to try to keep them safe.

The right whales are believed to number less than 350 and they are vulnerable to ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it's asking mariners to avoid the area where the whales were spotted or transit through it slowly.

The protected zone will be in effect until at least Nov. 19.

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