|Piper (Catalog #2320) is named for one of her many scars. On her left flank is her "Piper Cub".|
Shortly after being added to the Right Whale Catalog as # 2320, Piper was spotted entangled. The year was 1994 and only a single year had pasted since Piper was first documented by researchers. Her entanglement trailed out of the left side of her mouth. Was it just a short piece of line stuck in her baleen, was there a large chunk of gear in her mouth, or worse, had she ingested gear? The entanglement persisted through much of 1995, but thankfully at some point late that year she became gear free. Things were looking up for the young female. She was documented in the spring feeding grounds of the Great South Channel and Cape Cod Bay, and in the summer habitats of the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin. She was even seen a number of times in the wintering/calving grounds of the Southeastern U.S, although she had yet to be documented with a calf.
|Piper in 2004, Roseway Basin. Photo: Lindsay (Hall) Cooper-New England Aquarium|
|Piper in the Great South Channel (east of Cape Cod, MA) in 2004. Photo: Monica Zani - New England Aquarium. Photo taken under scientific permit issued by NOAA. Permit #655-1652.|
This time the entanglement was worse; it was more complex and again it involved the mouth. Over the next couple of years, Piper would be documented in her normal habitats. She also became the subject of several unsuccessful disentanglement attempts. As her entanglement persisted, researchers worried about her as there was cause for concern for her long-term health. In the spring of 2005 there was a small glimmer of hope when Piper was photographed in Cape Cod Bay. The images were of poor quality and researchers could not determine if the entangling gear was present. Could she be gear free?Researchers would have to wait a long nine months before the answer was clear. In January of 2006, a New England Aquarium aerial survey of the wintering/calving grounds of Georgia and Florida photographed Piper. Our photographs confirmed it—Piper was gear free AND she was with a calf!
|Piper is seen here in 2009 with her second calf . Photo: Monica Zani - New England Aquarium. Photo taken under scientific permit from NOAA. Permit #655-1652-01.|
|Photo: Kara Mahoney-Robinson - New England Aquarium. Photo taken under scientific permit from NOAA. Permit #655-1652-01.|