Dead right whales coming to P.E.I. for necropsy
Officials hope to start necropsies Thursday
The Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are getting ready in western P.E.I. to bring ashore at least one of six right whales recently found dead.
Officials are setting up at the foot of the Phee Shore Road in Norway, P.E.I. They want to know what killed the whales. The marine animals are endangered, with only about 525 in existence.
"For these animals to be protected, we have to figure out what's harming them," said Tonya Wimmer, director of the Marine Animal Response Society.
"Even the loss of one is pretty significant. The loss of six, you know, we're going to have to see what happens and if they can rebound from that. Hopefully they can. They're very resilient. But, we put them through a lot."
A coast guard ship is offshore at Norway with one whale — a male — in tow, and officials hope to bring in more. Initially, officials planned to bring the whale ashore with a smaller boat, but are now planning to use a long line and an excavator to pull the whale on shore.
The operation will take hours.
Right whales are among the largest animals, growing to about 15 metres and 70,000 kilograms. North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales on the planet.
The dead whales were found floating near Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the first on June 6, the second June 18, and the rest over the last week. Wimmer said four of the whales are male and two are female.
The cause of the whale deaths is currently a matter of speculation. It could be boat strikes, fishing gear or a toxic algae bloom. Only a necropsy can determine the cause, and officials hope to start on that Thursday.
Once the necropsies are complete, the whales will be buried on site.
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With files from Brian Higgins