Six right whales dead in Gulf of St. Lawrence
Moncton, N. B. – An expert on marine mammals says the fate of an endangered species could hang with the death of six free whales in the North Atlantic are floating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Tonya Wimmer, the Marine Animal Response Society, says the death toll is “unprecedented,” accounting for more than one percent of the 500 whales in the North Atlantic believers walking on the seas.
“For a species that leaves the instrument in this way, each individual counts,” says Wimmer. “Every year, we may have a few individuals found dead, and those who are devastating in themselves … We are six (death) confirmed, and it is quite catastrophic for this population.”
Wimmer said federal scientists, marine biologists, fishermen and other experts have teamed up to get to the bottom of what killed mammals.
The Department of Fisheries has sent planes and Coast Guard ships are trying to find the corpses in the waters near the Magdalena Islands.
The Marine Animal Response Society joined an expedition to examine one of the whales died last Thursday, Wimmer said. The collection of biological samples will be instrumental in determining what caused the death and, hopefully, preventing the loss, he said, but will take a “small army” to completely dissect the corpse of a whale.
“There is a huge sense of urgency to go out and do our best to understand what is going on,” says Wimmer. “Being able to get the root cause is very important, but time is of the essence.”
Scientists have a short period of opportunity to examine whales before their remains do not break down, said the marine biologist, hitting his fat in the heat and transforming the dead animal into a “pull-out oven.”
Marc LeCouffe, Fisheries Department, said authorities are hoping to meet on Monday to discuss the next step in their response: bringing a mammal to the ground for a post-mortem examination.
Some of the whales were tagged with satellite trackers, which will facilitate the drift search casings LeCouffe explains.
“These are enormous and huge animals – perhaps 50 feet (15 meters) long – so we need a vessel large enough to be towed,” LeCouffe said. “A wide belt is attached to the vessel and around the whale’s tail to be able to pull it, and this can be done quickly, of course, because if you pull too fast in these waters, you can tear the whale and then Has some tissue for sampling. ”
On the spot, scientists will resume and examine the whale, LeCouffe said, while his team avoiding inquisitives – then there is the question of what to do with the leftovers.
“The big part gets rid of the casing and everything that’s going on,” LeCouffe said. “It’s very good, so we have to find a place to dig a hole and bury it.”
North Atlantic right whales are among the most studied whales in the ocean, Wimmer says, with researchers developing unmanned drones, applications and other technologies to track their hard-to-reach migration patterns.
She said the case was recently detected in the Gulf of San Lorenzo, which raises questions about whether environmental factors could have played a role.
“If it’s something we can control … we have to change our behavior so they do not get injured,” Wimmer said. “I would say that it is important not only for this endangered species, but all these other species of whales that we have in our waters.”
The North Atlantic Free Whale was almost hunted to extinction in the late 18th century and has fought ever since. They are particularly vulnerable to collisions with ships because they are not aware of their environment while eating.