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Right Whale Obituary Series: Stumpy

In the last month, Cape Cod observed an unprecedented occurrence: a female North Atlantic right whale named Wart and her newborn calf swimming in the chilly waters of the bay. Mothers typically give birth off the Southeastern coast of the US, where warmer waters make the first few months of life easier on a newborn whale. So far, Wart and calf seem to be healthy and doing fine. While we are glad to see one of the new calves this season and wishing them well, as part of our obituary series we also wanted to reflect on a mother who was not so fortunate on this day in 2004.

Stumpy,the North Atlantic Right Whale

1981-2004

Stumpy, 29, a pregnant North Atlantic right whale was killed off the North Carolina coast on February 7th, 2004 when she was hit by a large passing vessel. Stumpy was pregnant with a son who was only weeks from being born. Her surviving family is unknown. She was officially named Stumpy in 1981 by the New England Aq uarium because her right fluke is missing a chunk (she’s also referred to by her catalog number 1004). The trauma to her fluke was also believed to be the result of a prior vessel strike she had bravely and successfully survived earlier in her life.

Stumpy enjoyed spending her winters in Georgia and occasionally in Florida where she and other right whales would pair up and socialize. She enjoyed traveling and spent time in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada which was her favorite place. In fact she was sighted there over forty times!

Stumpy is survived by four children and several grandchildren. Her first calf, Phoenix (1705), was born in 1987 and survived a fishing gear entanglement when she was ten years old. Phoenix also gave birth to her first calf in 1996 who was later named Smoke (2605).

“In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting your support of the continuation of the NA Right Whale Ship Strike Speed rule to prevent these tragic incidents from continuing.Please help and prevent ship strikes like the one which took the life of the courageous Stumpy and her son, who never had the chance to know, or travel with his mom.