A right whale was struck by a federal research vessel off the coast of Scituate on Sunday, but its injuries appeared minor.
A right whale was injured when it was struck off the Scituate coast by a federal vessel returning from a research mission.
The right whale was hit at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday just after it surfaced about 10 feet in front of the Auk, a 50-foot research vessel owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The ship was returning to port after a mission to study the feeding habits of humpback whales in the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary’s headquarters are in Scituate.
The Auk remained in the area for about 45 minutes so the crew could observe the whale, which had lacerations on one of its flukes but otherwise appeared normal, according to NOAA spokesman David Miller.
NOAA is investigating the accident, he said.
At the time of the strike, the boat was going 22 mph, a legal speed, and waves were about 4 feet high, Miller said.
“The whale was submerged and came to the surface about 10 feet in front of them,” he said. “The captain didn’t have any time to avoid a collision.”
Three Auk crew members were on lookout outside the bridge; the captain and a mate were on the bridge, Miller said.
The right whale is a highly endangered species. The worldwide population is estimated 350 to 400, Miller said.
Kaitlin Keane may be reached at email@example.com.