Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Conservation of Endangered Humpback Whales


Humpback whale breaching

Photo 34: Humpback whale breaching. 
(NOAA Photo Library.)

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and NOAA have established the world’s first sister sanctuary linkage protecting an endangered migratory marine mammal species on both ends of its range. The Santuario de Mamíferos Marinos de la República Dominicana (SMMRD-Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic) and NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) off the coast of Massachusetts, two marine protected areas 3,000 miles apart, provide critical support for the same humpback whale population (of around 900 whales), which spend spring and summer in the rich feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank before heading south to the warmer waters of the Dominican Republic in late fall to mate and give birth to their young. The sister sanctuary agreement was designed to enhance coordination in management efforts between the two sanctuaries and help improve humpback whale recovery in the North Atlantic.

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 Last updated September 8, 2020