Right whale necropsy on August 15
On June 27, 2010 a right whale carcass was found floating 50 nm east of Cape May, New Jersey and towed to shore for a full necropsy under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This adult male had suffered a chronic entanglement around the head and flippers which led to its demise. Unfortunately, this particular entangled animal was not known to us when it was alive and we have not been able to ID the carcass as it was too decomposed. We hope to get an identification through genetic analysis.
The second carcass was found floating on July 2, 2010 off the coast of Jonesport, Maine. It had two propeller cuts on the side of the body. Samples taken of the lacerations were taken at sea by a team from Allied Whale at the College of the Atlantic but the carcass was too decomposed to learn anything about the timing of the vessel strike (i.e. if it occurred before or after death). The animal was a sub-adult female. Again, individual ID is not known but may be determined from genetics.
And now, this third carcass - determining the cause of death is still underway but there are indications of blunt impact at the skull region from a vessel strike.
Necropsy reveals fractures in the skull and both sides of the rostrum on August 15.
We are very concerned about this latest rash of right whale deaths, perhaps all the result of human activities. Though the right whale community has made great strides in implementing protective measures for right whales, this job is certainly not yet complete.