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North Atlantic Right whale necropsy in Petit Étang

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Following the report of a dead North Atlantic right whale on June 20, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been working with marine mammal response partners on the issue.

The Canadian Coast Guard vessel CCGS Cpl. Teather located the whale June 24 and is towing it toward Cape Breton. They are working with marine mammal experts to organize and conduct a necropsy, which may help determine cause of death.

More precisely, the whale is currently being towed toward Petit Étang shore where, if logistics allow, the necropsy will be performed beginning this morning, June 25, 2019.

The dead whale was initially sighted in grid HA56 on June 20 during an aerial surveillance flight conducted by Transport Canada. The exact date and location and cause of the whale’s death are not known.

Right whales observed in 2019 to date can be found here: WhaleMap http://dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/mammals-mammiferes/narightwhale-baleinenoirean/alert-alerte/index-eng.html.

Multiple agencies, including DFO, NOAA, Transport Canada and other partners, are working together to detect these whales in Atlantic Canada to better protect the species and support its recovery. As part of this coordinated effort, on any given day, several aircraft could be flying over the waters of Atlantic Canada in search of right whales.

Logistics of the necropsy

DFO biologists, technicians and marine mammal specialists are working with marine mammal experts with the Marine Animal Response Society from Nova Scotia to coordinate and support the necropsy work. Veterinary pathologists from the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island, who are part of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, will be conducting the necropsy.

It could take several months before all findings are compiled. Final results will be made available publicly.