Necropsy indicates Canadian fishing gear likely caused death of right whale

Necropsy indicates Canadian fishing gear likely caused death of right whale

HALIFAX — Necropsy results indicate a North Atlantic right whale found in waters off the eastern U.S. in September died after being entangled in Canadian fishing gear.

The 40-year-old male known as Snake Eyes was last seen entangled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Aug. 6 off the Magdalen Islands. Its badly decomposed carcass was discovered off Long Island, N.Y., on Sept. 16.

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society did the necropsy a few days after the whale was found.

“They (scientists) determined that the likeliest cause of death was entanglement,” said Jennifer Goebel, a spokeswoman for the fisheries arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Goebel said the necropsy found no evidence of blunt force from hitting a vessel. While the internal organs were “significantly decomposed,” no signs of disease indicated death from natural causes.

No gear was found on its body but Goebel said scientists found wrap marks on the whale that matched what had been observed when the animal was last seen entangled.

“They were able to find linear wounds that were wrapping the rostrum and pectoral flippers as well as wounds to the fluke, which is the tail,” Goebel said. “Those were consistent with what was documented while the animal was alive, as were the head wounds.”

Death from entanglements, she said, can be “rather gruesome” for marine animals.

“Animals can get severe cuts from the entanglements, it can limit their ability to forage, they can get infections from the cuts — it’s a very painful way to die.”

So far this year, eight right whale are known to have died in Canadian waters out of an endangered population numbering about 400 animals. Twenty-nine right whales have died in North American waters since 2017.

It’s believed the death of Snake Eyes is the first this year as a result of entanglement. Three other whales were also sighted entangled in the Gulf this year.

Goebel said it’s not certain the fishing gear spotted on the whale last summer was Canadian but the evidence points that way.

“What we do know is that it was seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in July without any gear and then the next sighting was in August with a severe entanglement in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” she said.

The whale that was first observed by scientists in 1979 was well known to Phillip Hamilton, a research scientist at Boston’s New England Aquarium who helped identify the dead animal.

In an interview in September, Hamilton said the whale got its name from two bright white scars on the front of its head.

He said it wasn’t totally unexpected for Snake Eyes to have been found where he was because right whales tend to range up and down the eastern seaboard of North America at various times of the year.

Hamilton also said climate change is disrupting the feeding areas for the whales, which partly explains why they are showing up in larger numbers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Just Posted

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan addressed the Rotary Club Red Deer East at Pidherney Curling Centre on Tuesday.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Shiree Appleman
Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Innisfail RCMP is asking the public to help locate a woman who… Continue reading

Rotary Club of Red Deer logo.
Red Deer Rotary Club hosting tree planting event later this month

The Rotary Club of Red Deer will host a tree-planting event later… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Family doctors say they can answer vaccine questions, after Trudeau recommends them

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions… Continue reading

The Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. A new Leger poll suggests Canadians are divided over plans to send athletes from Canada to the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo as Japan grapples with climbing COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Canadians divided on sending Team Canada athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll by Leger and the Association of Canadian… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Insert your name here

Back in the Paleolithic Era when a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 29 cents… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Job search: Write a request that will get accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests… Continue reading

T-shirt with vaccine shot. (Contributed photo)
Letter: Hand out T-shirts with vaccine shots

I made myself a graphic T-shirt recently after getting my vaccine shot.… Continue reading

Most Read