UPDATE! Endangered Right Whale Found Dead Off Virginia’s Coast Died From A Vessel Strike

Dead female North Atlantic right whale (#1950) / Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries, taken under NOAA permit #24359

UPDATE: As WAN reported last week, it has been confirmed that the female North Atlantic right whale that was found floating off the coast of Virginia, died from a vessel strike. Whale #1950 succumbed to her injuries after sustaining a fractured vertebrae.

Sadly, it is also unlikely that her calf would survive without its mother.

“The loss of both of these whales will be felt deeply by the entire North Atlantic right whale population, of which only around 356 remain,” said Oceana.

Boat strikes like this are one of the two main causes of death for these critically endangered whales, and more needs to be done to prevent them.

Please Take Action by adding your name to protect Right Whales and to prevent more senseless deaths, HERE!

April 3rd: WAN is heartbroken to report that another North Atlantic right whale has died on the East Coast of the United States. Making the situation even more devastating is that the whale had a newborn calf who “is sadly not expected to survive” without her.

On the morning of March 30th, a company conducting Mid-Atlantic whale surveys for the Navy (HDR, Inc.), notified NOAA Fisheries of a dead North Atlantic right whale that was floating approximately 50 miles offshore east of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

The whale has been identified as adult female #1950—a mom from the 2024 calving season. She was first seen in 1989 and gave birth to her sixth calf this winter. Sadly, her calf has not been seen in the vicinity where her mother was found deceased. NOAA Fisheries and their partners have towed the mother whale to shore for a necropsy. The whale carcass was scavenged by sharks. Wind, weather, and distance from shore presented additional logistical challenges for the tow. Additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Unfortunately, this is the 40th whale mortality in the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event (UME) impacting North Atlantic right whales. The calf is also considered a seriously injured dependent calf in the UME due to the death of its mother. The UME began in 2017 and has documented 125 individual whales so far, including the two whales just found: 40 dead, 34 seriously injured, and 51 otherwise sick or injured whales.

Last year, Oceana released a report finding that most boats are speeding through slow zones designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, of which only an estimated 340 remain in the world.

TAKE ACTION! Tell your federal government officials to take immediate action to protect North Atlantic right whales from extinction by signing Oceana’s petition, HERE!

Please report any sightings of injured or stranded whales (dead or alive) and maintain a 500-yard (1,500-foot) distance. The Greater Atlantic Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline is (866) 755-6622 and the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline is (877) WHALE-HELP or (877) 942-5343.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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