North At­lantic right whale to be ex­am­ined

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES -

Marine mam­mal ex­perts be­gan carv­ing up the re­mains of an­other en­dan­gered North At­lantic right whale on Fri­day in a bid to de­ter­mine what caused the death of the lat­est whale to be found float­ing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Matthew Hardy of the Fish­eries Depart­ment said around 30 peo­ple were as­sist­ing in the necropsy — or an­i­mal au­topsy — be­ing con­ducted near a light­house on the north­ern tip of Miscou Is­land, N.B. The an­i­mal is the eighth North At­lantic right whale to have died in the Gulf over the last six weeks.

Hardy said the whale was first spot­ted Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon east of Ship­pi­gan, N.B., while an­other right whale was found en­tan­gled in fish­ing gear in the in the Gulf.

“We’re re­spond­ing to this in a very ... proac­tive man­ner to try and get to the bot­tom of this,’’ Hardy said in an in­ter­view Fri­day. “This opens more ques­tions than we’ve an­swered.’’

A full-sized ex­ca­va­tor was on site, peel­ing back lay­ers of blub­ber so sci­en­tists can look at the an­i­mal’s in­ter­nal or­gans, Hardy said. He de­scribed the smell as “un­for­get­table,’’ but said the 14-me­tre car­cass is in fresher con­di­tion than the rot­ting re­mains that were ex­am­ined in the pre­vi­ous five necrop­sies.

The Fish­eries Depart­ment closed a snow crab fish­ing area en­com­pass­ing most of the south­ern Gulf to pro­tect right whales from the dan­gers posed by fish­ing gear.

“This is sort of a first for the depart­ment, to make an emer­gency clo­sure like this,’’ Hardy said. “It’s that se­ri­ous when we have eight con­firmed mor­tal­i­ties of a pop­u­la­tion of about 500 (right whales).’’

In a state­ment Thurs­day, the Fish­eries Depart­ment ac­knowl­edged that the clo­sure could have an im­pact on fish­er­men, but said the mea­sure was war­ranted by the “un­prece­dented’’ string of North At­lantic right whale deaths in the Gulf. Of­fi­cials added that 98 per cent of the al­low­able snow crab catch in the area has al­ready been har­vested.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said he has asked Fish­eries to keep a close watch on the is­sue.

“This is some­thing that is ex­tremely con­cern­ing to me,’’ he said in Shel­burne, N.S., when asked about the sit­u­a­tion. “We know we need to take very se­ri­ously threats to marine mam­mals and that is why we’re do­ing our due dili­gence on that and try­ing to un­der­stand what hap­pened and how we can make sure it doesn’t hap­pen any more.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.