Atlanta

Another rare whale spotted off the coast of Georgia has been found dead

ATLANTA — Wildlife officials said that a right whale that was spotted off the coast of Georgia has been found dead.

“The whale has been identified as adult female #1950—a mom from the 2024 calving season,” NOAA Fisheries said a in news release. “Unfortunately, this whale is the 40th mortality in the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event impacting North Atlantic right whales. Her calf is also considered a seriously injured dependent calf in the UME due to the death of its mother.”

Just last month, another right whale was found dead along the Georgia coast after it sustained serious injuries after being hit by a boat.

Whale #1950, which was spotted off the Georgia coast as well, was found dead about 50 miles off the coast of 50 miles offshore east of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

“She was first seen in 1989 and gave birth to her sixth calf this winter. Her calf was not seen in the vicinity of the carcass,” NOAA said.

NOAA said that an Unusual Mortality Event was declared for North Atlantic right whales in 2017 and since then 125 right whales have been killed in U.S. and Canadian waters from “entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes.”

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Right whales, which are in decline, are slow to reproduce and every baby is vitally important to the future of the species, marine scientists have said. Twenty newborns would be considered a relatively productive season, but the giant whales have been having babies at an even slower rate than normal in recent years, and they have not reached that figure since 2021, NOAA data states.

Right whales migrate from their calving grounds off Florida and Georgia to feeding grounds off New England and Canada. The federal government has been working on new ship speed rules designed to protect the whales from injuries and deaths.

Some scientists have asserted that the whales are in trouble due to the warming of the ocean. The whales feed on tiny organisms in the ocean and appear to be straying from protected areas as the location of their food shifts due to climate change, scientists have said.

The species can’t withstand to lose population at that rate, and new protections to keep them safe are needed to save the species, environmental groups said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.