In yet another blow to the North Atlantic right whale population, two more right whale carcasses were found in July.
Right Whale #3421
On July 18, a dead right whale was seen floating off the Gaspé Peninsula in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The whale was towed to shore, and we were able to identify the individual as Catalog #3421, a male born in 2004. It was the seventh right whale mortality of the year.
A necropsy was performed, and there was no immediate determination of cause of death. Samples from the necropsy will be processed and analyzed, and we are hopeful that a determination can be made at a later date.
Two photos of Catalog #3421, from the North Atlantic Right Whale Identification Catalog
Born to Mono (#1321), #3421 was a familiar whale up and down the Eastern Seaboard. He was one of a several whales to travel back to the southeast United States as a young juvenile and was often seen associated with bottlenose dolphins. Later in his shortened life, he was a frequent participant in Surface Active Groups in the southeast U.S., Gulf of Maine, and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Catalog #3421 comes from a well-known family tree. His father, Orange Peel (#1617), has sired at least three calves. In addition to #3421, his offspring include Magic (#1243), a female who has had six calves of her own, and #1909, a female who was tragically struck and killed by a ship when she was pregnant with her first calf. Catalog #1909’s skeleton, and that of her unborn calf, are on display at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.
Unknown ID Right Whale
Also on July 18, we received images of a dead large whale sighted off Nova Scotia on June 24. We were able to confirm that it was a right whale – the eighth mortality of the year. Unfortunately, there were no identifying marks, so we have not yet been able to identify that animal. A second sighting of a dead right whale approximately 55 miles from the location of the June 24 carcass was made July 21. It is unclear whether this is another sighting of the June 24 whale or a ninth mortality case. Genetic samples were taken, and we are awaiting analysis for identification.
All photos copyright the New England Aquarium via the North Atlantic Right Whale Identification Catalog.