2017-2018 North Atlantic Right Whale Unusual Mortality Event

Since June 7, 2017, elevated North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) mortalities have been documented, primarily in Canada and were declared an Unusual Mortality Event.  In 2017, there was a total of 17 confirmed dead stranded whales (12 in Canada; 5 in the United States). To date in 2018, one whale has stranded in the United States.  The current total mortalities for the UME is 18 dead stranded whales (12 in Canada; 6 in the United States).

 

 

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Annual North Atlantic Right Whale Mortalities, 2012-2018, U.S. and Canada.

Note: Graph represents confirmed mortalities reported in each country and does not always reflect the location of the injury or death of the animal. Carcasses may drift across national boundaries; therefore, a carcass may be sighted or reported in one country even though the mortality occurred elsewhere. Species or stocks that migrate across national boundaries often carry their illnesses, injuries, or exposures to toxins with them. For mortality determinations in these species, transboundary collaboration is critical in determining the causes of injury, illness, and mortality for each animal.

 

North Atlantic right whale stranding locations along the Atlantic coast in Canadian waters:

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North Atlantic right whale stranding locations along the Atlantic coast in U.S. waters:

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Causes of the North Atlantic Right Whale UME

Full necropsy examinations have been conducted on 11 of the 18 whales and final results from the examinations are pending. Necropsy results from seven of the Canadian whales can be found online. 

As part of the UME investigation process, NOAA assembled an independent team of scientist to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to review the data collected, sample stranded whales, and determine the next steps for the investigation.

A dead right whale floating at the surface of the ocean

 

Report a Stranding

The most important step that the public can take to assist investigators is to immediately report any sightings of injured or stranded whales (dead or alive). In the United States, make a report by calling the Greater Atlantic Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at (866) 755-6622 or the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at (877) 433-8299.  In Canada, call the Marine Animal Response Society at 1-866-567-6277 or the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network at 1-877-722-5346. You can also contact the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards on VHF Channel 16. Do not approach injured or dead animals.

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