Boats told to avoid Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race have for the first time routed the fleet around the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the East Coast of the United States where a group of endangered North Atlantic right whales began feeding this month.

According to the New York Times , race officials directed the boats competing in the 37,000-nautical-mile race away from the sanctuary as they approached Boston. Ecologists and race organisers said that new rules restricting access to the sanctuary would better protect the whales and the sailors. The rules were enacted in January.

A collision with a marine mammal at the speeds of 30 miles an hour that these sailboats reach can be devastating, race officials said. The animal could be killed and crew members could be thrown into rigging.

Last week it was reported that an American research vessel on a mission to study the feeding habits of humpback whales struck a right whale in the sanctuary off the coast of Massachusetts. TheDaily News Tribunereported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shipAukhit the rare sea creature last weekend while returning to the port town of Scituate. Authorities said that the injuries to the whale did not appear to be life-threatening.