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North Atlantic Right Whale Calf Found Dead Due To Vessel Strike


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A North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead along the coast of Elberon, New Jersey. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shared the unfortunate news about the whale’s death on June 25.

Allison Ferreira, NOAA’s Communications and Internal Affairs supervisor, spoke to The Koala. She said, “We were alerted about a dead whale floating off northern NJ last Thursday (June 25). Which we confirmed to be a right whale later in the day after one of our partners (Center for Coastal Studies) that was conducting a right whale aerial survey in the area flew over the whale to get photos.”

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right whale
(Image Source: Center for Coastal Studies)

Adding, “The right whale is a critically endangered whale species. There are about 400 of them left, and less than 100 breeding females.”

The cause of death was thought to be a vessel strike and the necropsy results confirmed the guess. NOAA shared the results of their findings with The Koala. The right whale calf had perished due to two separate vessel collisions.

The report stated, “The whale had several propeller wounds across the head and chest. And a likely skeg or rudder injury on the back that may have occurred at the same time. Based on observed evidence of healing, those wounds were likely several weeks old. But were serious enough that they may have significantly impaired the whale. The second vessel collision resulted in a series of propeller wounds and a skeg or rudder wound across the tail stock. Evaluation of these wounds suggests they were inflicted shortly before the animal died and were likely the cause of death.”

Kim Damon-Randall, the Deputy Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Region, also expressed her sorrow over the loss of the calf. “Our hearts are broken by the news of the loss of this calf, which was the first calf observed this past season. The loss of every right whale is a detriment to this critically endangered species. But it is particularly hard when we lose a calf, given how few have been born in the last several years. The effort to secure this calf in order to determine the cause of death was herculean with many twists and turns.”

right whale
(Image Source: Marine Mammal Stranding Center)

Further adding, “We want to express our sincere appreciation to the many partners involved in this massive effort. For your dedication and service towards the recovery of this critically endangered species. We are committed to continuing to work with our partners both in the United States and Canada to reduce threats to North Atlantic right whales in order to recover the species.”

The right whale calf was born last year and was the first whale of the season to be born. Organizations are taking extensive steps and various measures to protect the endangered right whales.


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