New Brunswick

Another North Atlantic right whale found dead in U.S. waters

The carcass of a North Atlantic right whale has been spotted off the coast of the U.S., the third endangered whale to be found dead this year.

Experts say whale showed signs of entanglement in fishing gear

A dead North Atlantic right whale was spotted floating off the coast of Massachusetts on the weekend. (Photo: Garret Vaughan/US Coast Guard/NMFS Permit #18786-03)

The carcass of a North Atlantic right whale has been spotted off the coast of the U.S., the third endangered whale to be found dead this year. 

The 35-foot whale — which has been deemed a sub-adult male — was spotted Sunday, about 160 kilometres east of Nantucket, and island off Cape Cod, Mass., by a vessel with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

"The carcass is severely decomposed, but photographs show multiple wounds indicative of human interaction," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.

"The initial examination revealed marks consistent with entanglement."

But the agency said it was still too early to speculate on the cause of death. 

More whales die in U.S. waters 

The first North Atlantic right whale to die this year, also because of entanglement, was found off the coast of Virginia in January.

In August, the body of a second right whale was spotted off Martha's Vineyard, a Massachusetts Island south of Cape Cod. The whale was so decomposed a necropsy was not performed. 

At least 17 North Atlantic right whales were found dead last year — 12 in Canadian waters and five in U.S. waters. Scientists believe human activity, including shipping and fishing, was the primary cause.

Only about 450 North Atlantic right whales are left in the world.

Because of Canadian efforts to prevent the severe whale losses suffered last year, the 2018 fishing season was controversial, with fishermen in the Acadian Peninsula protesting against measures that restricted where they could fish. 

Several fishing zones were closed when whales were present in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Other protection measures included increased surveillance and mandatory speed reductions for ships. 

An Atlantic-wide meeting is planned to help decide what measures will be renewed or changed before the fishing season next spring.