Right Whale Calf Found Dead in Cape Cod Bay, Boaters Urged to Be Cautious

A U.S. Coast Guard crew tows the carcass of a right whale calf to shore, USCG photo by R. Miller

A U.S. Coast Guard crew tows the carcass of a right whale calf to shore, USCG photo by R. Miller

Boston – At approximately 11:30 this morning, researchers conducting right whale surveys in Cape Cod Bay reported a deceased floating right whale calf. The calf is a female and currently estimated to be 25 feet long.

The U.S. Coast Guard towed the carcass to shore, where it will be recovered for a necropsy. IFAW, the local authorized stranding response organization, is leading the efforts to recover the carcass with support from the right whale research and response communities. The purpose of the necropsy is to collect samples and possibly determine a cause of death, as well as to identify genetic relatedness to other right whales in the population.

There has been a record high number of endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay this year.

“We were very excited about the large number of right whale sightings in Cape Cod Bay, including three calves,” says Kim Damon-Randall, assistant regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries’ Protected Resources Division. “We are upset about the loss of this calf, especially as right whales are at very low abundance and every calf is critically important to their recovery.”

We urge boaters to keep a close look out for right whales at all times and to travel slowly (under 10nm) to prevent injury to both whales and people.

Right whales often hang just below the surface and are difficult to see, but can weigh 55 tons. Look for blows, ripples in the water, and patches of plankton–these are often signs that whales are in the area. Vessels and aircraft are required to maintain a distance of 500 yards from right whales.

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