Wildlife officials respond to third dead whale in a week in the Maritimes
A minke whale glides under the ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, on Feb. 1, 2018. (Regina Eisert / Anthony Powell / University of Canterbury via AP)
HALIFAX -- Wildlife officials in the Maritimes are dealing with a third dead whale in the past week.
A minke whale, spotted Sunday morning at the mouth of the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, became beached and died before rescuers could get to it.
"All we know at this point is that the animal is just over eight metres long. It's probably not full grown but it is quite a large animal," said Tonya Wimmer, executive director of the Marine Animal Response Society.
She said the carcass would be difficult to reach because it is on the mud flats along the side of the river.
Wimmer said she was hoping the next high tide late Sunday would move the animal to a more accessible location.
Another minke whale was found dead at Queensland Beach last Thursday.
Wimmer said the minke whales are common in the region and they hear reports of four to eight of them getting beached and dying each year.
She said while little is known about the deaths of many of the minkes, it's believed they can often be feeding and get trapped as a result of a receding tide.
The deaths of the two minke whales is in addition to a right whale found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence last week.
The carcass of the nine-year-old male known as "Wolverine" was towed to Miscou Island where a necropsy was done on Friday.
Preliminary results from a necropsy to determine the cause of death were inconclusive.
The whale was in an area previously closed to fishing activity as part of the 2019 management measures.
In recent years most right whale deaths have been attributed to being struck by ships or becoming entangled in fishing gear.
Major efforts have been made to limit fishing gear when the whales are present, and there are now mandatory speed restrictions for vessels 20 metres or longer when travelling in the western Gulf.
No right whales died in Canadian waters last year, but 12 were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017.
There are estimated to be fewer than 420 of the North Atlantic right whales left.
-- By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.