#11: Ruffian's amazing recovery

During a recent trip out to sea, one of the whales we sighted for the first time this season was #3530, a whale we named "Ruffian" back in February of 2008. This sighting was a very exciting one for us because Ruffian had been horribly wounded by an entanglement in some kind of fishing gear prior to January 2008, and though he was no longer entangled, we did not expect him to survive due to the extensive injuries he had sustained. (See all of Ruffian's sightings by searching for #3530 on the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog.)

He was sighted a few times after that, but the last shipboard photos were taken in April 2008 by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS), and at that time he still looked terrible. But last Friday we got our first really good look at him in more than a year and we were thrilled with what we saw: his many wounds had healed, leaving only a few white scars on his back, head and tail. Although we don't know his age, Ruffian (named for his "roughed-up" appearance) is a young whale and that was probably the leading reason for his remarkable recovery. Young mammals in general have an enhanced ability to heal compared to older animals.

Entanglement in fishing gear is still one of the biggest threats facing right whales. Nearly 75% of the whales in this beleagured population carry entanglement scars, and we know that at least 20-30 right whales have died or been fatally wounded from entanglements. We are grateful that Ruffian is one of the lucky ones...


Photo captions:
1)Ruffian with severe entanglement scarring, photographed by Georgia DNR in February 2008
2)Ruffian, wounds healed, in Bay of Fundy, August 2009 (photo NEAq)

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment