BOSTON (CBS) – It was a photo opportunity with an inflatable whale at the State House Monday, with a profound message: Save the Right Whales.

That message was aimed squarely at Washington. And the lawmakers and conservation leaders say, there’s no time to lose.

“We’re sending a message to those in Washington that we need them to step up and take action,” State Rep. Dylan Fernandes told a group of people gathered in the Hall of Flags.

With only about 400 of them left, the North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the world’s most endangered species. They are often killed or injured by commercial ships and by entanglement in fishing gear.

Lawmakers and conservation leaders spoke in front of an inflatable Right Whale at the State House (WBZ-TV)

In fact eight of them were killed in just the last few months. “Right whales are not dying of old age. We are killing them,” says Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

So a coalition of lawmakers and whale experts gathered in front of an inflatable Right Whale to celebrate a State House resolution. That document asks the US Congress to pass the Save the Right Whales Act, which is sponsored by Mass. Congressman Seth Moulton. The bill would provide $5-million per year for 10 years to find ways to protect the animals.

“We, as the New England Aquarium, do the foundational research to understand this species, and that bill will support research that will help fishermen and the community make adjustments to help save this species,” says Kelly Kryc of the NE Aquarium.

The local resolution was spearheaded by State Rep. Dylan Fernandes. “Look, we don’t have much time here. This is a population that is critically endangered, and if we don’t act swiftly, within my lifetime the right whales are going to disappear,” he says.

After the presentation people lined up to grab a picture with the inflatable whale, perhaps hoping this isn’t the only way they’ll be able to see them in the future.

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