PROVINCETOWN (AP) — Marine scientists say endangered North Atlantic right whales have been spotted in Cape Cod Bay for the first time this feeding season.

The Center for Coastal Studies says its aerial surveillance team saw seven right whales in the bay on Tuesday. They are among about 411 left in the world. The whales have been under close watch in recent years because of a downward population trend.

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Right whale #1403, Meridian, feeding in Cape Cod Bay on December 11, 2018. The white marks on the tail and white line in front of the blowholes are entanglement scars. CCS image, NOAA permit #19315-01.

The whales transit the area every year to feed on microscopic organisms.

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Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior scientist with the center, says the sighting indicates the whales are entering the feeding area earlier than previously thought. He says that information is important to protecting what remains of the population.

No new baby whales were found in 2018. They give birth off Georgia and Florida.

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