June 28, 2019 12:03 pm
Updated: June 28, 2019 5:12 pm

Right whale deaths in the past month have almost wiped out recent population gains

WATCH: The 34-year-old male named Comet was found Tuesday, June 25, near the Acadian peninsula. Callum Smith has the details.

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A leading whale expert says confirmation that a sixth North Atlantic right whale has died in Canadian waters this season is devastating for the critically endangered species.

Marine ecologist Mark Baumgartner says only seven right whale calves were born earlier this year off the southeast coast of the United States.

READ MORE: 6th North Atlantic right whale found drifting off Canada’s coastline

That means the population gains made this spring have been almost wiped out – and it’s still early in the foraging season off Canada’s east coast.

Baumgartner, who works at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, says Canadian officials are having a tough time keeping track of the whales because they appear to be spread out across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

WATCH BELOW: What happens during a whale necropsy?


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Thursday will see a necropsy being carried out on the third whale spotted this year, a 30-year-old female named Comet, who was first discovered near New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula on June 25.

The necropsy is being carried out in Norway, PEI. The exact date, location and cause of the whale’s death are not known

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says members of the Marine Animal Response Society, as well as veterinary pathologists from the Atlantic Veterinary College,  will lead the necropsy.

It could take several days for the results of the procedure to be released.

WATCH: Speed limits imposed in Gulf of St. Lawrence after series of right whale deaths

The DFO says a surveillance flight spotted the sixth dead whale Thursday drifting off Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula.

Other dead whales have been found near Quebec’s Anticosti Island and east of Iles-de-la-Madeleine, locations that are more than 250 kilometres apart.

With files from Alexander Quon

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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