Canada’s department of fisheries and oceans (DFO) has confirmed to Global News that a North Atlantic right whale has become entangled in fishing gear off Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula.
This is only the latest piece of bad news for the endangered species that is commonly found in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence.
At least 13 of the whales have been found dead this year off the coasts of Canada and New England, a number that scientists in the United States and Canada say is dangerous when there are no more than 500 of the species still existing in the wild.
“The entanglement of a right whale is an extremely difficult and distressing situation,” wrote Steve Hachey, a DFO spokesperson, in an emailed statement.
“We are assessing the situation and monitoring extremely closely.”
Scientists have said that entanglement and boat strikes are what they believe may be behind the high number of deaths
At this moment it looks unlikely that the government will act to disentangle the whale. Hachey wrote that the government’s current pause to disentangling right whales is still in effect.
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That decision came after the death of Captain Joe Howlett, a whale rescuer who was killed soon after he cut the last piece of rope from a massive whale in the waters off eastern New Brunswick.
Howlett was onboard a DFO boat at the time of his death though he was not part of its crew.
Last week, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the DFO announced that they would carry out a joint investigation into the causes of right whale deaths.