December 4, 2018 5:35 pm

Half of world’s North Atlantic right whales were spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2018

In this Wednesday March 28, 2018 photo, the baleen is visible on a North Atlantic right whale as it feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass.

The Canadian Press/AP, Michael Dwye

Officials say nearly half of all North Atlantic right whales in the world were spotted in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence this year during surveillance that will inform future protection measures.

The federal Fisheries department and Transport Canada gave an update Tuesday on the key findings from a meeting last month on the endangered mammal.

READ MORE: Transport Canada lifts speed restrictions implemented to protect North Atlantic right whales

Garry Stenson, a Fisheries research scientist, says an estimated 190 right whales are believed to have been in the southern Gulf this year, nearly half the remaining population of about 411.

Stenson says there is also clear evidence there has been an increase in the number of right whales in the Gulf starting in about 2015, and that the whale’s presence there was quite rare up until recent years.

He says it’s believed changes in the abundance and distribution of the whale’s prey is closely related to where right whales are now being found.

The information from the peer-review meeting will be used to inform management measures for 2019.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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