April 9 - 1996: Calving of right whales faces new threats

1975: When insurance companies CAME here rather than LEFT
Six whales killed so far in 1996, including three calves

1975: Insurance company to move HQ to Hyannis

On this day in 1975, an insurance company did something that would have come as a shock in recent years, with insurers deciding against providing homeowner's coverage to local residents -- it announced plans to move to Cape Cod.

Massachusetts Indemnity & Casualty Co. decided it would relocate its headquarters from Wellesley to Hyannis in mid-May, senior vice president John MacIntee told United Press International.

MacIntee said there were "two or three reasons" for the move, "among them the convenience of the Hyannis location to the summer residences of many company executives," UPI reported.

Massachusetts Indemnity & Casualty Co. expected to hire about 100 employees in the Cape area, MacIntee said, and spend an estimated $200,000 annually on utilities and local merchants and about $2 million to buy homes on the Cape. About 50 employees of the company, which specialized in disability coverage, expected to move to the Cape.

1996: Calving of right whales faces new threats

Six whales died so far this year, Navy war games may be responsible

Now, in early springtime, is when female northern right whales and their newborns migrate northward from calving grounds off Florida and Georgia to around Cape Cod, taking about a month for the journey. It has been a good season for baby making among the northern rights.

Scientists have sighted 20 calves, a record after years of falling counts. Only 320 or so of the behemoths now ply the North Atlantic, and a high rate of reproduction is seen as critical to the comeback of these big mammals, once hunted to near extinction and now the most endangered of the great whales.

But despite more than a half century of protection, as well as sustained Federal and private conservation efforts, the 55-foot, black and gray whales are failing to rally and their population remains dangerously low, baffling scientists and alarming environmentalists.

Six whales have died so far this year, including three calves, the highest number of deaths on record for so short a period. Part of the problem is that the lumbering giants swim through one of the nation's busiest sea lanes for commercial shipping and naval maneuvers, at times getting hit. Other whales get entangled in fishing gear.

But scientists say the roots of the problem go beyond such incidents and are increasingly a grim mystery, prompting a redoubling of protective efforts and detective work.

"We don't know what's going on," Dr. Scott D. Kraus, chief scientist at the New England Aquarium in Boston, the main research group working to save the animal, said in an interview. "It gets nerve-racking."

Environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the International Wildlife Coalition, recently contended that Navy war games off Georgia and Florida with five-inch guns and 500-pound bombs were probably responsible for many of the recent deaths... Read the rest of this New York Times article here.

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