Endangered whale entangled in fishing rope gives birth to calf and experts can’t help

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In Savannah, Georgia, scientists are following an endangered whale dragging a 20-foot length of fishing rope from her mouth after giving birth to a calf off the coast. The baby whale appeared healthy and not injured via an aerial survey team and was seen swimming next to his mother near Cumberland Island.

According to WrblNews, Biologist Clay George of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said the mother and calf have not been seen since they were spotted Thursday. This is the second North Atlantic right whale born in the Atlantic over the Southeastern U.S. this season. It is estimated there are only 350 right whales left and are classified as critically endangered.

The whales nearly became extinct during the commercial whaling era when they were hunted for their oil. Nowadays, the whales lose their lives in collisions with ships and entanglements with fishing gear before they have a chance to have babies.

The mom whale, identified last week by her unique marking on top of her head, had been dragging rope since March when she reportedly became entangled in Cape Cod Bay off the coast of Massachusetts. Wildlife rescuers were able to cut the rope before she headed south, but were not able to remove it from her mouth.

Tragically it is feared the mother whale could struggle to nurse her baby with the rope caught in her mouth because she still needs the energy to continue dragging the rope which also could cause more injuries to her mouth. Female right whales normally gorge themselves in the waters where they feed and mate off the New England coast and then head south to give birth. It is not unusual for them not to eat for months until they return.

After the spotting of the mother and calf on Thursday, no other attempts have been made to shorten the rope because it would cause too much of a risk to both the whales and the boat crew. She has two pieces of rope left about 20 feet coming out of the left side of her mouth. If the two pieces become entangled the baby could be in danger of drowning and becoming caught up in the rope.

It is just so sad what humans do to our wildlife isn’t it?

(Photo: Georgia Department of Natural Resources)

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