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Scientists determine right whale died from ship strike in bay

Canadian Press
October 09/03

    HALIFAX - Scientists were beginning a study of a dead right whale's final movements Wednesday after determining it died from a lethal ship strike in the Bay of Fundy.
   Researchers from two American marine science organizations want to piece together the endangered whale's travel route before it was found last Saturday in waters off the tip of southwestern Nova Scotia.
   They're hoping that if they can identify the area, they might be able to introduce restrictions that could prevent further deaths of the mammals, which only number about 300 worldwide.
   "We might have to consider putting some mandatory speed conditions in the Bay of Fundy or having a lookout posted on the bow of a ship," Jerry Conway, a marine mammals adviser for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said Wednesday.
   "Certainly we have to look at what our management opportunities are to further mitigate ship strikes. We are confirming that this whale died from a ship strike."
   Michael Moore, a research scientist with the Woods Hole Institution in Massachusetts, said a complex hydrographic study analyzing the whale's drift patterns might identify where it was struck by a passing vessel.
   The examination will take currents and tides into consideration in figuring out where the 50-tonne whale, believed to be an adult female, was killed.
   A local fishing dragger recovered the 13.5-metre-long carcass and took it to shore in Digby, N. S. A necropsy was conducted Sunday by experts from the University of Prince Edward Island's veterinary college.
   Right whales and humpbacks travel each summer to the Bay of Fundy to dine on the area's rich supply of plankton. Many mothers bring their young calves to the area for the summer.
   Aside from ship strikes, the other big killer of whales along the eastern seaboard are getting caught in webs of floating ropes and gear.

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