3 dead minke whales spotted off northern New Brunswick

At least three dead minke whales have been spotted floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off northern New Brunswick in recent weeks.

Photo shows whale floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in recent weeks

A minke whale is measured near Tiverton, N.S., in February. (Submitted/Amy Tudor)

The Marine Animal Response Society is seeking help to track down three dead minke whales floating off the coast of northern New Brunswick.

Tonya Wimmer, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University and the director of Marine Animal Response Society, said photos in recent weeks show three dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

She said the reports of the dead whales between the Gaspé Peninsula and northern tip of New Brunswick started in early June. 

The charitable organization dedicated to marine animal conservation hopes people will report sightings of the dead whales so they can be tracked and brought to shore. That could help determine how they died.

'Not great alarm'

"At this point, there's not great alarm in the sense of that there seems to be an incredibly high number of minkes" found dead, she said. "We want to be able to investigate as fully as possible to know if that does start to happen and there should be concerns for this species as well."

The whales aren't considered endangered like the North Atlantic right whales found dead in the Gulf last summer. The right whale deaths triggered the federal government to enact measures to protect the species now affecting the fishing industry.

However, in January the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the deaths of 28 minke whales over the past year along America's east coast an "unusual mortality event" and launched an investigation.

There have been several dead minke whales around the Maritimes, such as the Bay of Fundy and Cape Breton, Wimmer said.

Considered common

The minke is a member of the baleen whale family and is considered quite common, Wimmer said.

"They are a species with which we have great concern because they're the ones we see most often dead on our beaches or injured," she said.

The whales can live up to 50 years and grow to about 35 feet in length, weighing up to 20,000 pounds, according to NOAA.

Wimmer said anyone who spots the remains of the whales can report the sighting to her society's toll-free number at 1-866-567-6277.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not provide a comment about the dead whales before publication.

About the Author

Shane Magee

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Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.