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An aerial survey by government researchers recently spotted more than 160 whales in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries agency posted photos of the investigation on social media and called it an “overwhelming accumulation of sightings.”

Researchers discovered 161 whales, including seven different species, in the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and southeast of Nantucket.

“Highlights included the sighting of 93 sei whales – one of the highest concentrations of sei whales they had ever seen during a single survey flight!” the research team wrote.

Sei whales are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act and are most commonly found in Norway along with pollock, according to NOAA.

A second highlight, according to the researchers, was capturing images of two killer whales, which are not normally seen in such surveys. One of the whales had a tuna in its mouth, the team said.

Teri Frady, director of research communications at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, said The Boston Globe It is not unusual to see so many whales in the area at this time of year.

“However, since we do not conduct surveys every day and do not fly to the same area on every flight, it is actually the exception rather than the rule to catch such a large and diverse collection of birds on one of our flights,” Frady told the newspaper.

Other whales sighted included 36 humpback whales, 21 fin whales, as well as minke whales, sperm whales and North Atlantic right whales. Humpback whales, fin whales, sperm whales, killer whales and North Atlantic right whales are all critically endangered, according to NOAA. Minke whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


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