Tuesday, February 08, 2011

{Press} Wildlife officials investigating death of Right Whale

St.Augustine.com | February 3, 2011 | Justine Griffin

Wildlife officials investigating death of Right Whale | StAugustine.com

"Wildlife officials are working together to find out what killed a 2-year-old North Atlantic Right Whale off the shores of St. Augustine Beach this morning.

Biologists and other marine officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission towed in a female right whale that was found dead and floating in the water just eight miles from shore last night, said Tom Pitchford, a wildlife biologist with the FWC.

The 30-feet long, 15,000-pound whale lay motionless on the beach this morning as officials began to assess what may have happened through a necropsy, said Karrie Carnes, communications coordinator for NOAA.

FWC and NOAA officials helped untangle the same whale from rope and other debris three other times since Christmas day, Pitchford said. The last time officials found the whale was on Jan. 15, and she was in bad condition, Carnes said. Officials were able to sedate the whale while she was still at sea and remove most of the ropes around her mouth and flippers, Carnes said.

However, more rope was found entangled on the whale’s carcass two days ago when officials spotted her adrift from a helicopter, Pitchford said.

The skeletal remains of the whale will be donated to a museum or aquarium and other remains will be taken back to a laboratory for testing, Carnes said. The rest of the carcass will be buried on the beach near the Mary Street ramp where the animal was towed in last night.

NOAA, FWC, the Georgia Aquarium, University of Florida, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Georgia Department of Natural resources are assisting in the investigation and necropsy of the whale."

No comments: