The carcass of one more North Atlantic #right whale was spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Friday. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (#DFO) in Canada announced that the dead animal was seen off #Miscou Island during a surveillance flight. With this sighting, the number of confirmed death of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year has increased to eleven. The DFO said efforts are being made to recover the carcass and carry out a necropsy of this dead animal by next week.

The DFO statement also said it is not yet confirmed whether this is the same whale that was seen entangled off the Gaspé Penninsula last month.

Advertisements
Advertisements

North Atlantic right whales are endangered creatures

North Atlantic right whales are among the world’s rarest marine mammals. Their numbers have dwindled continuously in the past decades, and just over 500 of them are now left in the word. The year 2017 has proved to be a devastating year for this animal. This year, an "unprecedented" number of deaths of right whales have been reported off the coasts of the Canada and the US. At least thirteen North Atlantic right whales have died in the US and Canadian waters in 2017—a figure much higher than the yearly average of 3.8. Of these thirteen dead whales, 11 were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while two other carcasses were recovered off the coast of New England. Necropsies carried out on three dead whales found in the Gulf suggested that two of them had died following a collision with ships, while the third one died due to entanglement.

Advertisements

The US and Canadian authorities launched a joint investigation last month

The high number of deaths of these animals has also forced the Canadian and the US government to launch a joint investigation into these incidents. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US announced that it is collaborating with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to solve the puzzle behind these deaths. Both agencies agreed to share their resources with each other to speed up the probe. The joint investigation is also expected to help agencies draft regulations to protect the endangered animal in the water.

Last month, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced that DFO would take every possible measure to prevent the deaths of endangered right whales. Ottawa authorities also released new guidelines for big ships, asking them to reduce their speeds before entering the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. Vessels more than 20 m in length will now move at the maximum speed of 10 knots (about 19 km/h). Companies not following these orders will face a penalty of $25,000.