Necropsy set for Tuesday on body of right whale found in Gulf of St. Lawrence
A North Atlantic right whale appears at the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass., on March 28, 2018. (Michael Dwyer / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:39AM ADT
HALIFAX -- Officials hope to perform a necropsy Tuesday on a North Atlantic right whale found dead last week in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The whale -- a 40-year-old female named Punctuation -- was being towed late Monday to Petit Etang, N.S., where pathologists from P.E.I.'s Atlantic Veterinary College are to conduct the necropsy.
An aerial survey team from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) discovered the body floating off the Magdalen Islands on June 20.
Researchers had been studying Punctuation, who gave birth to at least eight calves, for nearly four decades.
There are only an estimated 411 of the endangered whales left, with deaths outpacing live births.
A study released last week found more than half the 70 North Atlantic right whale deaths recorded over the last 16 years were caused by entanglement in fishing gear or vessel collisions.
DFO said in a release Monday they would share the results of the necropsy, but not immediately.
"DFO biologists, technicians and marine mammal specialists are working with marine mammal experts with the Marine Animal Response Society from Nova Scotia to co-ordinate and support the necropsy work," the department said.
"Results of the necropsy or the cause of death will not be available the day the work is being done. It could take several months before all findings are compiled."
A nine-year-old male right whale was found dead off New Brunswick this month, but preliminary necropsy results were inconclusive.
No right whales died in Canadian waters last year, after federal authorities took measures to protect them.
In 2017, 12 had been found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and another five in U.S. waters.