Researchers Discover 1-Week-Old Right Whale Calf Struck By Boat Propeller, Suffers Severe Injury
By Space Coast Daily // January 10, 2020
wound is severe, could be fatal
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Florida Fish and Wildlife made a sad discovery on Wednesday after their right whale aerial team spotted the one-week old calf had recently been struck on the head by a propeller from a boat around 8 nautical miles off the coast of Georgia.
Officials say the wound is severe and could be fatal.
According to team members, the strike created a gash in the whale’s rostrum (upper jaw) that flaps open and closed each time the whale dives and surfaces to breath.
“Even if the young whale can survive the initial trauma from this strike, it may not be able to nurse properly and, without food, it will slowly die,” said a representative from Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The mother ‘Derecha’was first sighted by researchers in 1993, making her at least 27-years-old.
The calf this year is her fourth documented calf on record, with her last calf being born 10 years ago in 2010.
NOAA is asking anyone with information leading up to the calf’s injuries to contact 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343).
WAYS TO AVOID A WHALE STRIKE
Right whales are difficult to spot from moving vessels. However, here are some tips to consider:
– Wear polarized sunglasses
– Maintain a heightened watch while boating
– Reduce your speed in the calving area
Vessels less than 65 feet are capable of severely injuring and killing right whales, like this calf.
If a vessel strike occurs or an injured right whale is spotted, please report the incident in real-time to the NOAA hotline or U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Ch. 16.
FWRI and research partners will continue to assess the calf’s condition.
FWC is asking people to report all right whale sightings to 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343).
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