Featured Image Credit: SEA TO SHORE ALLIANCE
By Laura O’Brien
The North Atlantic right whale known as 3893 was a resilient female whale who researchers were able to document ninety times during her truncated life. When she was only three years old, 3893 survived a dangerous entanglement. Entanglement is a serious threat to whales, in fact, 3893’s brother was killed by entanglement when he was just one year old. Human activity killed her father last year as well. A necropsy on 3893’s dad showed blunt force trauma consistent with a ship strike. This January, six years after she survived her first documented entanglement, 3893 was found dead off the coast of Virginia. A necropsy revealed that she died due to chronic entanglement in abandoned fishing equipment.
A staggering amount of whales die all over the world due to entanglement. Each year, an estimated three hundred thousand cetaceans (such as whales) die from entanglement, but the amount of North American right whales that are killed annually is unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an unusual mortality event for North American right whales last year. Due to the event, extra resources will be available for researchers to look into the issue. In the wake of so many deaths, 3893’s demise poses a significant risk to the North American right whale population.
The ten-year-old whale was approaching her reproductive prime when she was killed. The unfortunate whale was in a moderate state of decomposition when she was found. Although moderate decomposition is not ideal for the purposes of necropsy, the additional resources have allowed an extra investigation into 3893’s death and her overall health. Heather Pettis is an associate scientist at the New England Aquarium Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life and fills the role of administrator of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium. When speaking about 3893’s death, Pettis stated, “(It’s) a devastating loss to a population already in decline”.
Learn more from our sources, http://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20180130/years-first-dead-right-whale-young-female-well-known-in-cape-waters , and https://e360.yale.edu/features/how_fishing_gear_is_killing_whales_in_the_north_atlanti