Nfld. & Labrador

Right whale spotted near Bonavista Bay appears to have left area

Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Strandings says the whale shouldn't be a problem for fish harvesters, but could have been if it had stuck around for long.

Whale seen last week seems to have gone and isn't a concern for fish harvesters, says head of rescue group

This North Atlantic right whale was spotted feeding off Bonavista Bay last week. (Provided by Eric Abbott)

A vagabond whale spotted last week in Bonavista Bay isn't a concern for fishermen, says Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Strandings.

On Thursday, a North Atlantic right whale was spotted swimming off Red Point Head in Bonavista Bay. Ledwell received two calls about the whale in addition to photographs, and was quickly able to identify not just the species but which whale it is: a male named Mogul who was born in about 2008 and has been spotted off the coast of France in the eastern Atlantic.

"It's kind of like the ancient mariner-type guy who goes all over the ocean," Ledwell said of the whale.

It's unusual to see a right whale on its own in that area at this time of year, he said. Usually by now, right whales are either on the move because of migration or out of this part of the ocean altogether. 

"You're a bit suspicious when an animal shows up alone like that."

The first caller who contacted Ledwell was concerned the whale was stuck because it wasn't moving around much, but it appears it was merely eating. By the next day, said Ledwell, the whale couldn't be spotted anymore, and flyovers done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Friday confirmed it had left the area.

Now that the whale appears to have moved on there are no concerns for fish harvesters, Ledwell said. However, if things changed and gulf-dwelling whales moved around the Strait of Belle Isle and similar areas there could be problems, he said.

Likewise, if the whale had stuck around Bonavista Bay, speed restrictions like those in place in other waters to protect right whales would be a possibility, he said. There are only about 400 North American right whales left in the world.

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With files from The Broadcast

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