Florida Fish and Wildlife Officials Notice Right Whale’s Poor Health
By Florida Fish and Wildlife // March 3, 2016
Health damage is currently unknown
A 27-year-old female Right whale was recently sighted in very poor condition, according to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
She is emaciated, gray in color (bottom) compared to her healthy black color (top) when she was sighted off Little Talbot Island in 2013.
She also has patches of orange whale lice on her head and body (another indicator of poor health).
Photos show that her baleen has been damaged which would affect her ability to feed, but the cause for this damage is currently unknown.
Entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes are the most common causes of injury and death for right whales. Catalog #1968 is a regular visitor to Florida.
In late January she was sighted in Southeast Florida between Jupiter and Boca Raton, but she has since moved back north and was recently spotted several times near the St. Johns River entrance.
NOAA Fisheries Service recommends remaining at least 100 yards from any large whale (500 yards by law for right whales), and viewing of large whales should be conducted in a manner that does not have the potential to alter their behavior.
For ill or injured whales like #1968, vessel approaches are an added stressor that may impact their recovery.
Please report all whale sightings, especially dead or injured whales, to 1-877-WHALE-HELP or to the USCG on VHF Ch. 16.
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