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Dead Right Whale Entanglement Confirmed as Maine Lobster Gear

On February 14, NOAA Fisheries released a report that the rope found embedded around the tail of the deceased right whale found in January is from Maine lobster gear.

Link to the report with images: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/endangered-species-conservation/north-atlantic-right-whale-updates

NOAA Fisheries identified the dead right whale as #5120, a female born in January 2021 to a whale known as Squilla (#3720). The 3-year-old whale was first seen entangled in August 2022, with multiple wraps around her tail and 200 feet of trailing gear. In January 2023, there were multiple attempts to disentangle her in Cape Cod Bay, but they were not successful.

#5120 was last seen alive in June 2023. The entangling gear was still present around her tail, and observers documented severe wounds around the embedded ropes and poor body condition. Preliminary necropsy results confirm chronic entanglement.

While more than 85 percent of all right whales have been entangled, only 2 percent of documented right whale entanglement injuries and fatalities can be traced to a specific geographic location and fishery. This is largely due to a lack of historical gear marking and low incidence of gear retrieval. Maine lobster fishery gear marking was mandated in September 2020.

Those critical of lobster industry regulations and protective measures for whales have long proclaimed that “zero” right whales have been killed in Maine gear. Now we have a long-suffering, dead female right whale wrapped in Maine fishing gear and the evidence is clear: swift action must be taken to prevent future entanglements off the coast of Maine.

PRESS RELEASES

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 - CLAIM THAT NO RIGHT WHALE HAS BEEN ENTANGLED IN MAINE FISHING GEAR IN 18 YEARS IS INACCURATE (CLICK HERE or READ BELOW)

No Right Whale Entanglements Myth Press Release_092022.pdf