The Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed reports of two more dead North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Monday, bringing the total number of the endangered species found dead in Canadian waters in 2019 to four.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) say the whales were located near New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula and to the west of Quebec’s Magdalen Island.
Officials are working with marine mammal response units to identify what their next steps will be.
The news comes only a few hours after a veterinarian team from the University of Prince Edward Island began performing a necropsy on another right whale near Petit Étang, N.S.
That whale, identified as a 40-year-old female named Punctuation was towed to Cape Breton on Monday after an aerial survey team discovered the body floating off the Magdalen Islands on June 20.
Officials say it is too early to report on the preliminary findings of that necropsy.
“The vital information and findings from these necropsies on right whales is key to better understanding the threats they face, as well as how to better protect them and support their recovery,” the DFO said in a press release.
Veterinarians from the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Montreal conducted a necropsy earlier this month in Miscou, N.B., on a whale identified as Wolverine.
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The necropsy, the first carried out this year on a right whale found in Canadian water, was completed with assistance from the DFO and the Marine Animal Response Society.
Experts found no evidence of recent fishing gear entanglement or vessel strikes in their preliminary findings. Further testing is ongoing.
Officials with the DFO say all of the results of the necropsies will be released in the coming months and that they are taking all “necessary actions to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from further harm.”
In 2017, 12 North American right whales were found dead in Canadian waters.
The global population of right whales was estimated to be approximately 411 in 2018.
With files from The Canadian Press