Washed ashore

Fish­eries of­fi­cials to ex­am­ine dead right whale in west­ern N.L.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

The lat­est North At­lantic right whale to be found dead on the East Coast is so decomposed of­fi­cials say we will likely never know what killed it.

“It’s a very flat­tened whale. It’s like a right whale pan­cake, so it’s been drift­ing and dead for quite a while,” Jack Law­son, a re­search sci­en­tist with the Fish­eries Depart­ment, said in an in­ter­view.

Law­son said the whale washed up on a rocky shore near Trout River in west­ern New­found­land.

Law­son said based on the de­gree of de­cay, it’s pos­si­ble the re­mains be­long to one of the eight North At­lantic right whales seen float­ing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in re­cent weeks.

“There was a whale that was seen in June off the south­west coast of New­found­land drift­ing out at sea and this could be that whale.”

Fish­eries of­fi­cials are tak­ing pho­to­graphs and sam­ples of the whale and com­par­ing it the float­ing corpse spot­ted in the area last month, Law­son said.

“If it’s the same an­i­mal that was seen a month ago, that’s good,” he said. “If this is not a new an­i­mal, that means we’ve seen what we’ve seen, and hope­fully the mor­tal­i­ties for this species in the gulf are all doc­u­mented and fin­ished.”

Of­fi­cials are us­ing ge­netic test­ing to see if they can find a match for the car­cass from a cat­a­logue of right whales that has been main­tained by sci­en­tists.

North At­lantic right whales are crit­i­cally en­dan­gered, with only about 525 es­ti­mated alive.

Last week, an­other right whale was hauled to New Brunswick’s Mis­cou Is­land last week in a bid to de­ter­mine the cause of death, while an­other right whale was found en­tan­gled in fish­ing gear in the gulf.

CP PHOTO/PARKS CANADA

Fish­eries of­fi­cials say a dead right whale, shown in this un­dated hand­out im­age, washed up on a rocky shore on the west coast of New­found­land.

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