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Right Whale found floating in Bay

Canadian Press
October 06/03

   DIGBY, N.S. - The body of an endangered North Atlantic right whale has been found floating in waters off the tip of southwestern Nova Scotia.
   The 50-tonne whale, believed to be an adult female, was found about 40 kilometres off Digby, N.S., in the Bay of Fundy on Saturday afternoon.
   The cause of the whale's death was unknown, but the loss is a serious setback for a species struggling to survive, said Jerry Conway, marine mammals adviser for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
   There are an estimated 300 to 350 right whales left in the world - only 60 of those are believed to be breeding females.
   "It is a serious blow to the species," he said. "Every lost female has a significant impact on the ability of that population to withstand any downturn."
   A local fishing dragger was recovering the 13.5-metrelong carcass and taking it to shore in Digby, Mr. Conway said.
   A necropsy was scheduled for Sunday by experts from the University of Prince Edward Island's Veterinary College.
   Officials from the New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts were also on site and taking part in the investigation, he said.
   "We have no idea what the cause of death is," Mr. Conway said.
    "There's no indications that this was a ship strike ... or that this was a gear entanglement."
   Right whales and humpbacks travel each summer to the Bay of Fundy to dine on the area's rich supply of plankton.
   Four whales were successfully freed this summer from tangled fishing gear by trained volunteers in the Bay of Fundy, located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
   Mr. Conway said it wasn't clear if the whale was leaving the bay to spend the winter in warmer waters off Florida and Georgia when it died.

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