TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The first right whale calf born in the 2019-2020 season has died, according to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
NOAA Fisheries Service received a report of a North Atlantic right whale carcass floating off the coast of New Jersey on June 25.
According to the institute, an evaluation of the calf’s wounds during a necropsy showed the 7-month-old male whale was injured by at least two separate vessel collisions.
An impact injury of its lower back and a series of propeller wounds across the right whale’s upper back and head were likely several weeks old.
The FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said the severe injuries likely impaired the calf’s behavior to interact with its mother, in natural behaviors like swimming and nursing.
The second vessel strike injury caused wounds just above the calf’s tail, which were likely the cause of death.
The calf and its mother were sighted in the Gulf of Mexico, a rare occurrence, in March. The pair was seen numerous times between the Panhandle and the Keys.
The calf was one of only 10 born this winter.
It was the second to be gravely injured by a vessel strike.