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Dead right whale towed to Cape Breton in hopes of solving mystery of its death

Nova Scotia·New

The second critically endangered North Atlantic right whale to be found dead in Canadian waters this year has been towed to Cape Breton to be examined.

Punctuation is seen here with her calf, swimming off the coast of Georgia in 2006. (New England Aquarium taken under NMFS/NOAA permit #655-1652-01)

The second critically endangered North Atlantic right whale to be found dead in Canadian waters this year has been towed to Cape Breton for examination.

Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cpl. Teather brought the carcass to Petit Étang, N.S., overnight.

If conditions allow, officials hoped to perform the necropsy Tuesday morning but it could be months before the results are known.

"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. Final results will be made available publicly," the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a news release.

Punctuation is seen here with another calf, swimming off the coast of Florida in 2009. (New England Aquarium taken under NMFS/NOAA permit #655-1652-01)

The whale, which was first spotted dead on the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Thursday, has been identified as the animal named Punctuation due the scars on her head that look like dashes and commas. According to the New England Aquarium, which tracks the whales, she was first identified in 1981.

In the four decades scientists have observed her, she's had eight calves. Two of her calves went on to have calves of their own.

In her life, she'd been entangled in fishing nets five times and struck by ships twice.

Tonya Wimmer, executive director of the Marine Animal Response Society in Halifax, has said the whale was one of the more "reproductively successful females," and called her loss, "heartbreaking."

Another right whale, a 9-year-old male named Wolverine, was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence earlier this month. Preliminary necropsy results into his death were inconclusive. The full results of that necropsy won't be known for months.

Wolverine, a nine-year-old north Atlantic right whale, was the first whale death reported in 2019.(Gabrielle Fahmy/CBC)

No right whales were recorded dying in Canadian waters last year, but 12 were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017.

Necropsies on seven of those whales found four died from trauma consistent with vessel collisions, while two deaths were the result of entanglement in fishing gear.

There are an estimated 416 North Atlantic right whales left in the world.

Multiple agencies, including DFO, the U.S.-based National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Transport Canada and others are working together to track the remaining whales. On any given day several aircraft could be flying over the waters of Atlantic Canada in search of right whales.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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