DFO unable to find entangled right whale off northeast N.B.

The whale was spotted Friday off of Miscou Island, N.B., DFO said. It was swimming with rope around its body and trailing behind it.

Marine animal response group says the report is the first it has received this year

Fisheries officers are continuing to search for a North Atlantic right whale reported to be entangled in rope off the northeast coast of New Brunswick. (Lisa Conger/Northeast Fisheries Science Center under NOAA Permit #17355)

Despite "extensive" search efforts, fishery officers have been unable to locate the entangled North Atlantic right whale spotted off the northeast coast of New Brunswick.

The whale was seen Friday off Miscou Island, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said.

It was seen swimming with rope around its body and trailing behind it.

Fishery officers and others headed out Saturday to try to locate the whale to no avail, DFO said Sunday.

However, regular surveillance flights will continue and more information will be shared if the whale is sighted again, the department said.

At least 18 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead since last year.

Tonya Wimmer, executive director of the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS), said this is the first call the organization has received about an entangled right whale this year.

She said she hasn't heard of any reports coming through the Quebec or Newfoundland hotlines either. 

"At this stage, it's a good sign ... but obviously this is never a good scenario for a critically endangered species," Wimmer said.

"In terms of deciding what happens next, that's kind of a collaborative effort between the response groups and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I think at this point, everyone's been very focused on the need to re-locate the animal."

Wimmer is asking anyone who is out on the water and sees "anything that is dead or distressed" to call the hotline immediately at 1-866-567-6277.