Budget cuts to end whale monitoring near N.Y. harbor
ALBANY, N.Y. - Monitoring for endangered right whales near New York harbor is ending because the project has lost financing in the state's budget crunch.
Acoustic monitoring by Cornell University scientists has found the rare right whales swimming near the harbor, where federal officials have recently lowered ship speed limits to help protect the whales during their migrations from Florida to New England and Canada.
The monitors that have recorded the whales' calls south of Long Island for a year are not being replaced, scientists said.
Biologists estimate the population of North Atlantic right whales at 300 to 400.
The species was hunted to near extinction a century ago and the remaining whales are vulnerable to collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear.
The whales generally migrate south in November and December to calving grounds, and return north in February through April to feeding grounds.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation funded the monitoring project, which began last spring. But the department's budget is being reduced to help rein in New York's projected $14 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts April 1.