February 14, 2024 —
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it had identified the fishing gear associated with the chronic entanglement of the North Atlantic right whale, identified as #5120. Based on the required gear markings on the rope, the agency identified the gear as Maine lobster gear. Enhanced gear marking requirements in Maine were put in place in September 2020.
February 5, 2024 —
The preliminary findings from the necropsy (animal autopsy) revealed that the North Atlantic right suffered from “chronic entanglement wounds.” The photo above shows the deeply embedded rope in the right whale’s peduncle.
February 2, 2024 —
Scientists identified the North Atlantic right whale as #5120, a calf born to the right whale Squilla (#3720) during the 2021 calving season. This juvenile right whale was documented as a serious injury case when it was first seen with a serious entanglement on August 31, 2022.
On February 1, 2024, Stranding Network partners and collaborators, including WDC’s stranding coordinator Sarah McCormack, conducted a necropsy (animal autopsy). During the necropsy, measurements, photographs, and biological samples were taken to determine cause of death. Preliminary findings will be available soon.
January 28, 2024 —
In tragic news, a dead female North Atlantic right whale was found stranded on Martha’s Vineyard Sunday. The whale was found with rope wrapped around its peduncle, however, scientists have not yet identified the cause of death. A necropsy, or animal autopsy, is planned, but weather has prevented responders from identifying the individual animal or her age. This news comes on the heels of the sighting of the 16th calf born this season, surpassing the number of calves born in the past two years.
“We were so hopeful to start the week with good news of another new calf but instead we are heartbroken, particularly because the loss of a female also means the loss of all of her future calves,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDC- NA executive director. “While we don’t have the luxury of mourning this loss, we do have the responsibility to ensure this whale’s legacy is one that provides a future for the species,” she added.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation is working to prevent accidental entanglements through supporting efforts to trial on-demand fishing gear which removes entangling line from the water while allowing fishing communities to thrive. In addition, we are strongly urging the Department of Commerce to release an expanded vessel strike speed rule that will keep both whales and boaters safe in our waters.
This story is unfolding; we will update this page as we learn more. For more information go to NOAA Fisheries’ North Atlantic right whale updates page.