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NOAA cleared after research vessel hits whale

The crew of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel that struck and wounded an endangered North Atlantic right whale off the Massachusetts coast in April 2009 was not guilty of wrongdoing, according to the results of an investigation by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).

The staff of the research vessel Auk, captained by a NOAA contractor, “exercised due care” before and after it hit the animal, according to report, released on 18 July. Specifically, the agency determined that the three whale observers on the vessel’s bridge could not have been expected to spot the whale’s sudden appearance in its immediate path until it was too close to avoid a collision.

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