July 6, 2019 9:33 am
Updated: July 7, 2019 12:02 am

3 entangled North Atlantic Right whales sighted in southern Gulf of St. Lawrence

WATCH: Summer is off to a treacherous start for North Atlantic right whales. Six of the endangered mammals have died in Canadian waters since the start of June. Now, there are at least three right whales seen entangled in rope, struggling to stay alive. Ross Lord reports.

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Officers on a Canadian Coast Guard vessel spotted three entangled North Atlantic Right whales in southern Gulf of St. Lawrence this week.

One whale was initially sighted on June 29, east of Miscou, N.B. The animal has a rope around its peduncle, or tailstock, and appears to be dragging something heavy. It was re-sighted on July 2, still entangled.

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On Thursday, two other entangled Right whales were spotted. The first was seen by officials in a Transport Canada plane east of the Gaspé Peninsula, Qué. It appears to have rope trailing from both sides of its head down its body.

READ MORE: Sixth right whale found dead likely died from vessel strike

The second was reported by a researcher working at sea under a Species at Risk Act permit. The whale was seen east of Miscou, N.B., and it appears to be trailing a line of rope from underneath its body. According to a press release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), it is believed this animal was previously entangled. Initial reports indicate that this may be an animal that was first sighted entangled in April, in U.S. waters.

All three entangled whales were sighted in areas already closed to fishing activities.

Aerial and at-sea surveillance is underway in an effort to monitor these particular whales and get a better sense of their entanglements.

WATCH (June 27, 2019): Experts say as the whales change their distribution, tracking of the species is paramount to keeping them safe. Alicia Draus reports.

“With our partners, we are considering options for attaching tracking buoys to the ropes on these whales, if the ropes are long enough to permit crews to do so safely. The safety and security of our employees and the crews of any of our partners, including disentanglement experts, is paramount,” said the DFO in a statement released to Global News.

The department said attempts at disentanglements will only be considered if they can be done in a safe manner.

“Right whales are among the most difficult marine mammals to disentangle due to their size, strength and behaviour,” the DFO said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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