Right Whale Special Reports


According to local newscasts in Boston the right whale Staccato had a broken jaw bone and fractured vertebra which would indicate a ship strike as the cause of death. This is not a NMFS report.


As many of you will know by now, a dead right whale was reported this morning in Cape Cod Bay, south of Long Point (Provincetown). The Center for Coastal Studies is attempting to secure the carcass, and Dana Hartley is working with CCS, the Park and towns to locate a suitable beach to tow it to. The assumption is that the necropsy will be tomorrow (Wednesday), but this will be confirmed later depending on events today.

Scott Kraus says that the whale is Staccato, a mature female first seen in 1974 and the mother of at least six calves.


As of 2 pm, CCS was heading out on the RV Shearwater to secure this animal; current intention is to bring it into the Pamet River (Truro). We're probably dealing with a LARGE animal here. CCS says that the whale may have been seen alive from an aerial survey yesterday, but this isn't photographically confirmed. Therefore, earlier reports that the animal may not be fresh may not be true.

As of 4 pm, the whale was under tow with no immediate destination option; Pamet is too shallow. Other options are being investigated now.


5.30 pm Wednesday Necropsy of the right whale began today but could not be completed because of tidal problems. A lot of external work was completed and the lower jaw removed, but the body cavity remains unopened. The work will resume tomorrow morning at 7.30 am; same place (obviously) - Duck Harbor Beach in Wellfleet (1/4 m south of the parking lot).

The animal is 45 feet (13.7 m), quite fat and with no obvious signs of injury externally.


15:30 Thursday

The right whale necropsy should be completed today. The salvage crew from U Mass were busy removing flesh from bones and doing a fine job. Among other things, the baleen was all secured, the larynx removed for Joy Reidenberg, ears removed for Darlene Ketten, and a full suite of tissue samples were taken.

As of when I left the site at 1330 there was nothing new on cause of death. The right side (side on which the whale was lying) had not been looked at yet, but much of the rest of the skeleton had been exposed and there were no obvious injuries. It's too early to say at this point, but this may have just been an old, old whale. David St Aubin will have the final word in the necropsy report.

Early Warning System Reports

Woods Hole, MA