Fishing gear suspected in death of right whale

The decomposed remains of an endangered right whale washed ashore this month near Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park, on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia.  Entanglement in fishing gear was likely responsible for the animal’s death, based on a large amount of rope that was wrapped around its tail (photo).  Pathologists from the Atlantic CCWHC office in Charlottetown, together with colleagues from the Marine Animal Response Society of Nova Scotia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, conducted an examination of the remains in order to retrieve the entire length of the rope and assess the damage to the tail caused by it.  This is the seventh carcass of a right whale to have been examined in Atlantic Canada since 1992.  Some of the other whales had evidence of entanglement in fishing gear as well or of having been struck by a large ship.  In other cases, the diagnosis was inconclusive because of the poor state of preservation of the carcass.  As there are estimated to be less than 500 right whales left, any information obtained from even the most decomposed animal can be important, with the hope of preventing any further incidents which may hinder the protection and recovery of this species.

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