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Unusually large number of whale deaths seen along Atlantic coast

By Karen Graham     Apr 27, 2017 in Environment
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries (NOAA) has declared an "Unusual Mortality Event," based on the higher-than-normal number of deaths and strandings of humpback whales seen along the Atlantic coast recently.
According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, An Unusual Mortality Event is defined as a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population, and demands an immediate response.
According to the Associated Press, federal officials have said there has been an unusually high number of humpback whales either stranding or found dead along the Atlantic coast in the past year.
What appears to be the body of a young whale washed into the shallow water at Port Mahon in Delaware a few days ago, but marine scientists have been unable to get to the carcass to remove and study it due to stormy weather.
Suzanne Thurman, the executive director of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, Delaware's marine mammal stranding team says it looks to be a humpback whale, reports Delaware Online.
If the carcass is confirmed to be a humpback, it would be the fourth one to strand in Delaware waters in less than a year. Four humpbacks have also stranded off the coast of Virginia, and last fall, there was a stranding off Long Island. Hopefully, NOAA will also add the dead humpback whale that washed up on shore near Digby, Nova Scotia during the mass die-offs of thousands of herring and other sea creatures that blanketed the shorelines along the Bay of Fundy since the latter part of November 2016.
Just based on the number of strandings, and all, apparently, belonging to the same species, this is reason enough to be very concerned, and was reason enough for the federal fisheries agency to declare the mortality event. It should be noted that last year, the humpback whale population along the Atlantic coast from the Caribbean to Canada, was taken off the federal endangered species list.
Humpback whales usually migrate to warmer waters to breed and raise their young during the winters. But the whales are a common sight in the summer months along the Atlantic coast clear up to Canada. We have seen an unusually high number of mortality events over the past few years along the West coast of North America, but now, we are starting to see die-offs along the Atlantic coast.
More about Humpback whales, unusual mortality event, NOAA, strandings, Delaware waters
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