2017–2020 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.
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) and in 2018, three whales stranded in the United States. In 2019, nine whales have stranded in Canada, and one whale has stranded in the United States. The current total mortalities for the UME is 30 dead stranded whales (21 in Canada; 9 in the United States).
|Year||Month||NARW ID||Sex||Location first observed||Preliminary Cause of Death|
|2017||June||#3746||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||June||#1402||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Suspect blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2017||June||#3190||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Undetermined; advance decomposition|
|2017||June||#3603||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Acute entanglement (gear present; anchored)|
|2017||June||#3512||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||June||#1207||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Probable blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2017||July||Unk||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Probable blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2017||July||#2140||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Suspect blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2017||July||#2630||M||Newfoundland||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||July||Unk||F||Newfoundland||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||July||#1911||F||Newfoundland||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||September||#4504||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Acute entanglement (gear present)|
|2019||June||Wolverine||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Pending|
|Gulf of St Lawrence||Compatible with sharp force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2019||June||Comet #1514||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Highly compatible with blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2019||June||#3815||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Pending|
|2019||June||#3329||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Pending|
|2019||June||Clipper #3450||F||Gulf of St Lawrence||Compatible with blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2019||June||Unk||U||Gulf of St Lawrence||Undetermined; not examined|
|2019||July||#3421||M||Gulf of St Lawrence||Pending|
|2019||July||Unk||U||Gulf of St Lawrence||Undetermined; not examined|
|2017||April||#4694||F||Barnstable, MA||Blunt force trauma (vessel strike)|
|2017||August||Unk||M||Martha's Vineyard, MA||Probable entanglement|
|2017||August||#2123||F||Cape Cod, MA (offshore)||Undetermined; could not be examined|
|2017||October||Unk||M||Nashawena Island, MA||Suspect entanglement|
|2017||November||#2611||F||Martha's Vineyard, MA||Undetermined; advance decomposition|
|2018||January||#3893||F||Virginia Beach, VA (offshore)||Chronic entanglement (gear present)|
|2018||August||Unk||M||Monomoy, MA||Probable entanglement|
|Nantucket, MA (offshore)||Probable acute entanglement|
|2019||September||#1226||M||Long Island, NY(offshore)||Pending|
|2020||January||Calf of 2360||U||Georgia (offshore)||Presumed mortality; Sharp force trauma (vessel strike)|
Causes of the North Atlantic Right Whale UME
Full necropsy examinations have been conducted on 18 of the 30 whales and final results from the examinations are pending. Necropsy results from seven of the Canadian whales from 2017 can be found online.
As part of the UME investigation process, NOAA assembled an independent team of scientists 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. We are continuing to investigate these mortalities but preliminary findings support human interactions, specifically vessel strikes or rope entanglements, as the cause of death for the majority of the whales.
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.