Endangered right whale found entangled off the Block Island coast

By Peyton Benbow

Photo courtesy of MGN

A North Atlantic right whale was spotted 50 miles south of Rhode Island’s Block Island entangled in rope. Less than 360 right whales are remaining, only 70 reproductive females, establishing them as a critically endangered species. The main causes of death for right whales are entanglement with fishing rope and striking vessels, usually fishing ships.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement indicating that the entangled whale was spotted on April 9 and could not be rescued as it was “far from shore.” The NOAA reported that the whale “has rope coming out both sides of its mouth.”

Several right whales have died off the coasts of Georgia and Massachusetts in recent years. The species migrates from Florida and Georgia to New England and Canada for “feeding grounds,” but their food sources have been moving south to warmer waters. This has changed the course of the right whales’ migratory patterns, causing them to reach rising mortality rates with vessel strikes and rope entanglement. 

“NOAA Fisheries and our partners will monitor this whale and attempt to respond to the entanglement, if possible, as weather and safety conditions allow,” NOAA stated