Northeast
Photo credit NY DEC

NOAA documents first observed right whale death in U.S. waters in 2019

On Monday, September 16, NOAA Fisheries received a report of a dead North Atlantic right whale floating 4 miles south of Fire Island Inlet off Long Island, NY.

September 16, 2019. This afternoon, NOAA Fisheries received a report of a dead North Atlantic right whale floating 4 miles south of Fire Island Inlet off Long Island, NY. The carcass is extremely decomposed, and we are not able to provide any details on the whale’s cause of death, age, or sex at this time.

Since June 7, 2017, elevated North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) mortalities have been documented, primarily in Canada and were declared an Unusual Mortality Event.  In 2017, there was a total of 17 confirmed dead stranded whales (12 in Canada; 5 in the United States) and in 2018, three whales stranded in the United States. In 2019, eight whales have stranded in Canada. The current total mortalities for the UME is 28 dead stranded whales (20 in Canada; 8 in the United States).

"We are working with Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Coast Guard, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Fire Island National Seashore on a response plan. We hope to be able to further examine the whale tomorrow," said aNOAA spokesperson.

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.


NOAA will share more information on this whale as we receive it.

NOAA Fisheries reminds the public to report sick, injured, stranded, or dead marine mammals to your local stranding network. In New York, please call (631) 369-9829.

NOAA press release

See also 2017-2019 North Atlantic Right Whale Unusual Mortality Event