Whenever we are sailing north to Maine from our homeport in Newport, RI we make a point of steering close to Stellwagen Bank off Provincetown, MA to see the whales that often are there in summer. Many are right whales and their size and seeming sense of play are always inspiring. So, stories like this one are cause for concern.
An adult, female right whale named Starboard was familiar to researchers and had just reached reproductive age. ‘It’s pretty devastating from a professional and personal viewpoint,’ said Amy James, a right-whale researcher at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass.
She was born a dozen winters ago in the warm waters of the southeast United States, traditional calving grounds for the North Atlantic right whales. Researchers eventually named her Starboard and in the ensuing years observed her migrating like clockwork between Florida, New England and the Bay of Fundy.
This summer, however, Starboard joined the increasing numbers of right whales who have edged further north into the Gulf of St Lawrence, a move that has been particularly lethal, with 12 of them dying, either after colliding with ships or getting caught in fishing lines.
Among them was Starboard. A more detailed account of her life and final days emerged this week with the release of her necropsy report. Read more.