Monday, April 15, 2024

Yet Another North Atlantic Right Whale Found Dead


NOAA Fisheries announced this week that yet another dead North Atlantic right whale had been spotted off the US East Coast.

The whale was floating about 50 miles/80km off the coast of Virginia, and was identified as adult female #1950 — a mom who had given birth to her sixth calf this winter. She was one of fewer than 70 reproductively active females.

NOAA Fisheries said the calf wasn’t seen anywhere near the carcass, and due to the mother’s death wasn’t expected to survive:

“NOAA Fisheries and our partners have towed the whale to shore for a necropsy. The whale carcass was scavenged by sharks; wind, weather, and distance from shore presented additional logistical challenges for the tow. We will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.”

In the spring, mother-calf pairs, which are particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes, migrate north from their calving grounds in southeastern waters to their feeding grounds in northeastern waters.

Whale conservation groups reiterated their calls for rules aimed at lowering the speed limits for cargo ships transiting the area where whales migrate.

Gib Brogan, campaign director at Oceana in the United States, said:

“There are now at least seven dead North Atlantic right whales in just three short months. The death of right whale #1950 is just the latest tragedy facing this species as it swims on the edge of extinction along the East Coast of the United States and Canada. While we wait for the necropsy results, we also know it will likely have deadly consequences for the mother’s newborn calf, born just this winter, which cannot survive on its own. These whales are not dying because of natural causes. They are dying preventable deaths as a result of collisions with boats and entanglements in fishing gear, and our government isn’t doing anything to stop it. How many more deaths must this endangered species face before President Biden takes action? President Biden: it’s time to take the conservation of right whales seriously and issue the proposed updates to the 2008 vessel speed rule immediately. President Biden has an opportunity and responsibility to act and make the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale part of his enduring legacy. These whales cannot wait any longer for protection.”

Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation of North America said:

“Given that right whales over a year old do not die of natural causes, it’s a safe bet that this whale died of a vessel strike or an entanglement. Either way, this preventable death was caused by the political theater that has stalled the release of regulations that could have saved this whale.”

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.