A 19-year-old female North Atlantic right whale was observed on February 24, 2020 by the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center aerial survey team. The whale, known as “Dragon” (ID Number 3180), was traveling slowly at the surface. It was within a group of right whales approximately 45 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.
From the airplane, the whale’s mouth was photographed ajar, but the whale did not appear to be feeding. The animal is emaciated, its skin tone is unusually light, and it has patches of whale lice. These are all indicators of a long-time weakened condition.