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Two more dead North Atlantic right whales found in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Experts and the curious examining a dead North Atlantic right whale that was towed up onto a P.E.I. beach in 2017 so that a necropsy could be performed. - File Photo
Experts and the curious examining a dead North Atlantic right whale that was towed up onto a P.E.I. beach in 2017 so that a necropsy could be performed. - File Photo - Eric McCarthy

Two more North Atlantic right whales were confirmed dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this week, bringing this year’s total to four.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed reports on June 25.

The whales were located near the Acadian Peninsula, N.B., and west of the Magdalen Islands, Que.

DFO is currently working with marine mammal response partners to identify the next steps.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

The department has worked closely with marine mammal response partners to conduct two necropsies to determine the cause of death of right whales found earlier this month in the Gulf.

On June 7, veterinarians from UPEI and the University of Montreal conducted a necropsy in co-ordination with DFO and the Marine Animal Response Society in Miscou, N.B.

The experts reported there was no evidence of recent fishing gear entanglement or recent vessel strike in their preliminary assessment. Further testing is ongoing to identify other potential causes of death.

A second necropsy is currently being conducted by the veterinarian team from UPEI in Petit Étang, N.S., of the dead whale reported on June 20. It is too early to report on preliminary findings.

The final detailed results of these necropsies will be available in the coming months.

Necropsies take time and are highly demanding on everyone involved. The vital information and findings from these necropsies on right whales are key to better understanding the threats they face, as well as how to better protect them and support their recovery.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to take all necessary actions to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from further harm.

This is a shared responsibility and the department has been working closely with partners in Canada and the United States, coastal communities and industry partners to detect right whales and to implement robust management measures that mitigate risks to the species.

This includes ongoing fishery closures in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for snow crab and lobster fisheries (and all other non-tended fixed gear fisheries) based on confirmed right whale sightings since April 28.

The federal government’s measures to protect the whales for 2019 are available online.


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