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National Marine Fisheries Service

06/28/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/28/2020 17:45

Dead North Atlantic Right Whale Sighted off New Jersey

June 28, 2020

Through a joint effort between the New England Aquarium and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the dead whale has been identified as the male calf of North Atlantic right whale #3560 (unnamed). He was the first of ten reported calves of the 2019/20 season. North Atlantic right whale #3560 and her calf were first spotted off the coast of Georgia in mid-December 2019, and were last sighted on April 6, 2020, off Cape Lookout, NC. A necropsy has been completed and the calf is a male. We hope to share preliminary results tomorrow (Monday).

The mom, #3560, was born in 2005, so is now 15 years old. She's been seen in all major right whale habitatsover the years, from Canada to Florida, and frequented the Southeast, the only known calving area for this species, in the past but was not observed with a calf until this year. Sadly, this was her first calf. This is also the mother and calf pair that were documented in the Gulf of Mexicoback in March. The status of the mom is unknown at this time.

'We were encouraged to learn of this right whale calf's birth last year, marking the first calf born of the season. The news of its death is distressing and yet another setback for an endangered species we are working tirelessly to protect,' said Philip Hamilton, Research Scientist with the New England Aquarium who manages the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog.

Another right whale calf was struck and seriously injured by a vesselearlier this year off the coast of Georgia. That mom and calf pair were last seen alive together on January 15, but the calf's current status is unknown.

NOAA urges everyone to please give these animals their space. Stay informed! Learn about recent right whale sightings through our Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Right Whale Sighting Advisory System. The law requires keeping a safe distance of at least 500 yardsby sea and air (including drones) from North Atlantic right whales because of the dire status of the species. Get more information on how to safely view marine mammals in their habitats from our marine animal viewing guidelines.

If you see a sick, injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal please report it to your local stranding network. In New Jersey, please call (609) 266-0538.

June 27, 2020

With the assistance of the USCG, the whale has been towed to shore so that a full necropsy can be conducted starting this afternoon, and continued tomorrow morning. As we stated in yesterday's update, we have several partners in our northeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network assisting with the necropsy. We thank them for their continued support in this important effort.

Media contact: Allison Ferreira at 978-609-1604 or [email protected].

June 26, 2020

Working closely with members of the stranding network, U.S. Coast Guard, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation to locate this right whale, we have confirmed that the carcass was floating off of Monmouth Beach, New Jersey as of 12:15 p.m.

We are now working on a plan to tow it to shore for a hands-on examination (necropsy).

Several partners in our northeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network are helping. Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Virginia Aquarium, and International Fund for Animal Welfare are preparing to send biologists to assist with the necropsy, so we can learn more about this animal, its health, and possible cause of death.

Preliminary observations show a number of wounds along the head and body of the whale that are consistent with a vessel collision. It is too early to say whether this was the cause of death.

If you have information about this incident, please call the following number: (866) 755-6622 (select option 'zero'). Any information will help us determine what happened to this whale, and contribute to our ongoing work to reduce threats to these endangered animals.

NOAA Fisheries uses multiple strategies to reduce the risks of collisions between ships and right whales. These include regulatory requirements, voluntary programs, and outreach. We require most vessels 65 feet or longer to transit at speeds of 10 knots or less in designated Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs) along the East Coast of the U.S. to reduce the risk of right whale vessel strikes. Since aggregations of right whales may also form outside of designated SMA boundaries, we established a voluntary Dynamic Management Area (DMA) program that encourages vessels greater than 65 feet in length either to avoid the area or to transit at speeds less than 10 knots.

Dead right whale found floating off New Jersey on June 25 shows sign of a vessel collision.

June 25, 2020

This morning, we received a report of a deceased floating whale off the coast of Elberon, New Jersey. Based on the available photos, it has been confirmed to be a North Atlantic right whale.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC), Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, and NOAA are currently working with resources in the area to secure a necropsy location, and members of the stranding network are making plans to assist in this effort, so we can learn information about this animal.

The Center for Coastal Studies aerial survey team was flying on Long Island today and redirected their efforts. They were in the vicinity of the whale around 3 pm to document the animal, and confirmed that it was a right whale. MMSC is also headed out with U.S. Coast Guard to get additional photos from the water.

This is the first observed right whale death in U.S. waters in 2020. An unusual mortality eventhas been in effect for North Atlantic right whales since 2017, during which 31 whales (including this one) have been found dead in U.S. and Canadian waters, and an additional 10 live seriously injured whales have been documented, bringing the current total number of animals in the UME to 41.

The leading causes of death for this UME are entanglements or vessel strikes. Two of the 10 live whales reported as seriously injured in this UME were reported in 2020-one was a calf that had been struck by a vessel off the coast of Georgia, and the other was an adult female with an entanglement last seen off the coast of Massachusetts. Both of those individuals were last seen alive but their current status as of today is unknown.

North Atlantic right whales are endangered, with only about 400 remaining, of which only about 95 are breeding females.

We will share more information on this whale as we receive it.

NOAA Fisheries reminds the public to report sick, injured, stranded, or dead marine mammals to your local stranding network. In New Jersey, please call (609) 266-0538.