A young female right whale, one of the world’s rarest species ofwhales, was killed in August, apparently in a collision with a ship off Nova Scotia.
Fewer than 300 of the animals remain in the world’s oceans, according to marine biologists, which makes the loss of this whale, especially since it was a female, a tragedy for the struggling population. It is estimated by biologists that fewer than 55 breeding females exist.
"Right whales are so called because, traditionally, they were slow and easy to kill by whalers," said Lerone Stephens, a naturalist in Bar Harbor, Maine, who works aboard a whale-watch vessel. "They’re still slow and easy to kill by ships that can’t necessarily see them."
The 41-foot-long, nine-year-old whale was found by fishermen several miles off the southern Nova Scotia coast on August 19. They towed the carcass ashore where an autopsy was performed by a team of American and Canadian biologists. It was concluded that the whale suffered a broken jaw, serious bruising, and internal bleeding.