Entangled North Atlantic Right Whale Spotted South of Nantucket

October 20, 2020

An entangled right whale was spotted south of Nantucket on October 19, 2020 by an aerial survey team from Center for Coastal Studies.

North Atlantic right whale seen from above with gear trailing from its mouth. An aerial survey team from Center for Coastal Studies spotted an entangled right whale south of Nantucket on October 19, 2020. Photo taken under Center for Coastal Studies permit.

While searching for entangled right whale #4680 yesterday, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS)  aerial survey team spotted several right whales, including another new entangled right whale south of Nantucket. CCS sent out their Marine Animal Entanglement Response team and arrived on the scene at around 1:30 p.m. 

The New England Aquarium has identified this entangled whale as #3920, an 11-year-old male, also known as "Cottontail." There is a line over its head, exiting both sides of his mouth, extending beyond his tail for about three to four body lengths. CCS removed some gear from the whale and added a satellite buoy for tracking. Cottontail was last seen in March south of Nantucket.

Due to fog and rough seas, no operations are planned today. When we have more details, we will provide an update.

Mariners: Please note that there is a Right Whale Slow Zone south of Nantucket to protect right whales recently sighted in this area.

There are only roughly 400 individual North Atlantic right whales remaining. An Unusual Mortality Event (UME) was declared for North Atlantic right whales in 2017 and is ongoing. Over the past 3 years, 31 whales in Canada and the United States have been documented dead. An additional 11 whales have been documented alive but with serious injuries (42 whales total). Most of the mortalities or injuries have been attributed to either ship strikes or entanglements. Those 42 individuals in the UME represent at least 10 percent of the population, which is a significant negative impact on such a critically endangered species.

If you see a marine animal in distress from Maine to Virginia, call (866) 755-6622. If you are outside this area, call the appropriate contact number for your location. As always, keep people and pets back a safe distance of at least 150 feet from marine animals. Keep boats and drones 500 yards away from endangered North Atlantic right whales. To find out how you can help, please contact your local stranding network partner.




Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on October 20, 2020