Friday, June 26
Shortly before 1 pm on Thursday, June 25, researchers at the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) were notified about a dead whale sighted off New Jersey. The CCS Right Whale Ecology Program was conducting an aerial survey in the New York Bight at the time of the report and traveled to the area to document the animal.
The survey team was able to confirm it was the body of an immature right whale. The carcass was floating on it’s side and the main identifying features, like the head callosity, were obscured. CCS shared photographs of the whale with colleagues in the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium and is working on matching it to a known individual by other, visible, identifying features.
Recovery efforts for the carcass are being coordinated through NOAA and their partners; plans for a necropsy are in process.
UPDATE: Researchers from New England Aquarium and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identified the whale as the 6 month old male calf of right whale #3560, the first calf born in the 2020 season. A necropsy conducted on June 28 concluded that the calf was struck by a vessel at least twice: “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.” (NOAA/Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office)
CCS remains committed to aiding in the conservation of this endangered species by providing support, systematic documentation, and research of the ecological drivers that dictate their movements and behaviors.