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Massachusetts declares April 24 as Right Whale Day to raise awareness about the endangered species

Right Whale Deaths
Michael Dwyer
FILE - In this March 28, 2018, file photo, a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. The population of North Atlantic right whales has dipped to the lowest level in two decades, according to the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium.

Massachusetts has declared April 24 as Right Whale Day in an effort to raise awareness about the endangered species.

North Atlantic right whales number fewer than 350, according to federal fisheries estimates. The New England Aquarium says it hopes Right Whale Day will encourage Massachusetts residents to learn more about the mammals and threats posed to them by entanglements in fixed fishing gear and ship strikes.

"Despite it being right off of our coast, a lot of people don't know about the right whale. They don't know it's the state's marine mammal. They don't know that it's critically endangered," said James Sutherland, the New Engalnd Aquarium’s associate vice president of public policy and advocacy.

Aerial surveys have tracked North Atlantic right whales in Cape Cod Bay and off of Nantucket from December to May.