Subject: Endangered right whale killed by ship (fwd)

mike williamson (
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 16:47:11 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 15:53:56 -0400
From: Susan Gedutis <>
To: Susan Gedutis <>
Subject: Endangered right whale killed by ship


(Boston, MA)  New England Aquarium right whale researchers today are in
Nova Scotia examining the carcass of a female right whale that was struck
and killed by a ship somewhere off Nova Scotia two days ago.  The death of
this 41-foot female, known as "2450" to Aquarium researchers who first
sighted her in 1994, is a tragic blow to a population of only about 300.
Collisions with large ships are the number one killer to the right whale,
the world's most endangered large whale.  According to Aquarium research,
large ships have struck and killed at least fourteen right whales since
1976, totaling one third of all documented right whale deaths.

        The whale was discovered floating in Canadian waters early
yesterday by a Nova Scotia fisherman.  New England Aquarium (NEAq)
researchers working at their summer field station in Lubec, Maine were
alerted immediately.  Today they used their research vessel, The Nereid, to
tow the whale to a Nova Scotia beach.  The entire right side of 2450's body
was  badly bruised and her jaw broken, clearly indicating that she was
struck and killed by a large ship.  Aquarium researchers are now working
with colleagues from various institutions to perform a necropsy (an animal
autopsy), and take samples of various parts of the endangered whale's
carcass for analysis.

        In April 1997, the New England Aquarium's right whale team hosted a
highly successful workshop that convened shipping industry representatives,
U.S. and Canadian government agencies and researchers to discuss ways to
prevent ship collisions. With Canadian collaborators, work on reducing ship
collisions in Canadian waters has been progressing rapidly.  In the U.S.,
NEAq has been instrumental in the providing scientific data that led to
national designation of three critical right whale habitats.  In at least
two of these habitats, NEAq conducts early warning aerial surveys to
encourage ships to steer clear of whales.  In addition, NEAq researchers
have been working with fishermen to reduce the danger of fishery
entanglements to right whales.

        Whalers named them the right whale because they were the right
whale to hunt:  they are slow, surface swimmers, have oil-rich blubber, and
float when killed.  By the late 1800s, they had been hunted to near
extinction.  Despite international protection since 1935, their rebound has
been exceedingly slow-as little as 2% per year.  Genetic studies indicate
that the current population has descended from as few as three females.
Inbreeding that may affect reproduction, fishing gear entanglement,
pollution and ship collisions continue to take their toll.

        New England Aquarium's North Atlantic Right Whale Research Project,
in its 18th year, is the world's first, most comprehensive and
longest-running continuous study of this mammal in the world.  NEAq's work
spans the Atlantic waters from Florida to Greenland, covering all known
habitats for this whale.  Studies seek to identify distribution, behavior
and migration patterns, genetics, reproductive rates and causes of
mortality.  This information is used to recommend optimal conservation

#   #   #

Susan Gedutis, Senior Publicist/Publications Coordinator
New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, MA  02110
Phone:  (617) 973-5222, Fax: (617) 723-9705