New Brunswick

Prognosis 'poor' for injured North Atlantic right whale calf

The prognosis isn’t good for an injured North Atlantic right whale calf located off the Florida coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Calf has been treated with antibiotics, but the outlook isn't good

The right whale calf suffered an injury just days after being born that was consistent with a strike from the propeller of a vessel, according to NOAA officials. (FWC, NOAA permit number 20556-01)

The prognosis isn't good for an injured North Atlantic right whale calf located off the Florida coast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The whale was injured by a ship's propeller and it has been treated with antibiotics.

"The calf is responding to the injury like we would expect, to try to bridge and heal the injury itself," said Teri Rowles, a marine mammal health and stranding program co-ordinator with the administration. 

"But the prognosis still at this point remains poor."

Rowles said the calf was last seen on Wednesday, when antibiotics were administered via a large syringe, shot out of something similar to a dart gun.

The calf was discovered earlier this month and was at the time the fourth North Atlantic right whale calf spotted this year.

It was then that it was discovered the only days-old calf had a severe injury that NOAA officials said was "consistent with the propeller of a vessel."

The right whale is an endangered species, with only about 400 individuals remaining. Fewer than 100 are adult females.

The calf was last seen Wednesday off the coast of Florida. (FWC, NOAA permit number 20556-01)

Rowles said the calf is staying close to its mother.

"It rolls over the mother's back, it's staying very close, it dives under the mother," said Rowles. 

"We're hoping that means it's nursing, although we can't see underwater to confirm that. The calf's behaviour appears to be normal."

Rowles said NOAA wants to stress that prevention of these incidents is key to helping the dwindling right whale population.

She said it's important for vessels to be cautious in areas that see increased whale activity, and to report any potential strikes as soon as they happen.

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