North Atlantic Right Whale Calf Found Dead Off Chatham

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CHATHAM – Marine biologists are trying to figure out what caused the death of a North Atlantic right whale calf, one of just 14 born this winter.

The calf was found dead Thursday just off-shore of Morris Island in Chatham and towed by the Chatham harbormaster to an on-shore area.

International Fund for Animal Welfare spokesperson Kerry Branon said the nearly 30-foot long, roughly 10,000-pound whale has injuries consistent with a vessel propeller strike, but a necropsy is being performed Friday to determine the exact cause.

“Once that is complete and the studies and results have come back, we should be able to help determine a cause of death,” said Branon.

Results could come back within a week.

The calf and its mother were last spotted April 28 in Cape Cod Bay. It was first spotted January 12 off Georgia.

Branon said the mother was identified as the whale named Punctuation.

“It’s very unfortunate for a population of only 450 to 500 individuals,” said Branon.

The necropsy team includes marine scientists from IFAW, NOAA and the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown.

There are an estimated 500 North Atlantic right whales left.

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