On Monday, September 16, 2019, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society “AMSEAS” received a report of a deceased North Atlantic right whale floating four miles south of Fire Island Inlet. AMSEAS worked with NOAA Fisheries, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, US Coast Guard Station Fire Island, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Fire Island National Seashore to formulate a response plan.
On Tuesday, September 17 the team went on the water to relocate the whale and found it floating about five miles off Jones Beach. With the help of Sea Tow and Town of Hempstead to tow the whale to Jones Beach State Park. Because of the level of decomposition, the towing operation took several hours as the team worked against strong winds. The following day, Wednesday, September 18, the AMSEAS team began the necropsy examination on 45-foot male whale.
We had support from International Fund for Animal Welfare and Center for Coastal Studies during the examination. The Center for Coastal Studies and New England Aquarium have identified this whale as Snake Eyes, #1226, a 40+-year-old male. Snake Eyes was last seen entangled in the Gulf of St Lawrence on August 6, 2019, after being seen there gear free on July 16. This is his first sighting since the entanglement.
This is the first observed right whale death in U.S. waters in 2019. An unusual mortality event (UME) has been in effect for North Atlantic right whales since 2017, during which nearly 30 whales have been found dead in U.S. and Canadian waters. North Atlantic right whales are endangered, with only about 400 remaining, of which only about 95 are breeding females.
Learn more about the unusual mortality event here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2017-2019-north-atlantic-right-whale-unusual-mortality-event
The public is encouraged to report injured and deceased marine mammals and sea turtles to the NYS Stranding Hotline by calling 631.369.9829. Sightings of marine wildlife are also helpful and can be shared with AMSEAS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.