National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries officials announced today that a dead North Atlantic right whale has been sighted off the coast of Elberon, New Jersey. The whale has not yet been identified, though NOAA and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center are working to secure a necropsy site. The cause of death is unknown. This marks the first confirmed right whale death in U.S. waters in 2020.
Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Although we don’t yet know what killed this particular whale, it’s no mystery that the two drivers of the species’ decline are ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements. Today’s confirmed death marks yet another step down the road toward inevitable extinction unless we take decisive action to stop killing these whales.”
• Fewer than 400 right whales are alive today, including only 95 reproductive-age females.
• This death marks the 31st confirmed right whale death since 2017.