North Atlantic right whale on Martha’s Vineyard had a chronic entanglement and was seen in poor health before its death. Experts are examining the rope and other samples collected from the whale.
NOAA-On January 28, 2024, NOAA Fisheries was notified of a deceased female North Atlantic right whale near Joseph Sylvia State Beach on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. We worked closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Stranding Network partners, and local responders to recover the carcass and conduct a necropsy.
Preliminary observations indicated the presence of rope entangled near the whale’s tail. State law enforcement officials collected some of the rope and turned it over to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. It is now being examined by gear experts.
Whale Identified as #5120
Scientists at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life reviewed several images of the dead North Atlantic right whale. They matched it to whale #5120 in the right whale catalog based on clear matching features, such as callosity patterns and markings. This right whale, the only known calf of Squilla (#3720), was born during the 2021 calving season.
A stranding response team completed the necropsy of North Atlantic right whale #5120 on February 1, 2024. From the necropsy, experts confirmed a chronic entanglement, with rope deeply embedded in the tail, and thin body condition. The necropsy showed no evidence of blunt force trauma. Cause of death is pending further histological and diagnostic testing of collected samples, which can take weeks to complete. We will share more information as it is available.