Statement on rope removed from deceased North Atlantic right whale


BOSTON, MASS. (February 15, 2024) – The New England Aquarium is reacting to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) determination that rope recovered from deceased right whale Catalog #5120 is from the Maine lobster or crab fishery. According to NOAA, preliminary necropsy results of the whale show chronic entanglement, with rope deeply embedded in the whale’s tail and thin body condition. The cause of death is pending further testing. Philip Hamilton, a senior scientist in the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, shared the following statement.

“While marked fishing gear can provide valuable information about the regions and type of gear that pose a risk to whales, the North Atlantic right whale is a highly mobile species that doesn’t recognize state or federal boundaries. The case of Catalog #5120, who was entangled for at least 17 months as the gear became more embedded into her flukes as she grew, is another example of why prevention of entanglements needs to be prioritized. Without on-demand fishing gear being implemented throughout the right whale’s range in U.S. and Canadian waters in an expedited fashion and with significant funding support, entanglements will continue to threaten the survival of this critically endangered species. Drawing on decades of research, the New England Aquarium stands ready to partner with industry leaders and policy makers to help drive science-based practices and decisions that effectively protect the species while allowing for responsible use of the ocean.”

More information about Catalog #5120 is available here on the Aquarium’s website.


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