VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The North Atlantic right whale necropsy reveals blunt force trauma as the cause of death.
The male 20-year-old, 43-foot whale was found dead and washed up on the shore in Virginia Beach on Sunday night.
The NOAA determined the whale suffered a catastrophic blunt force traumatic injury, impacting a large portion of the vertebral column. The injuries consistent with a vessel strike included multiple vertebral fractures and separations that would have resulted in death shortly after the injury.
The whale was in otherwise normal to thin nutritional condition, with no evidence of recent entanglement, and no obvious external evidence of the trauma.
There are currently active Seasonal Management Areas off all major ports in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Chesapeake Bay, which are in effect through April 30.
All vessels 65 feet or longer must travel at 10 knots or less in these areas. Additionally, there is an active voluntary SLOW Zone for all vessels off the Chesapeake Bay that is in effect through February 23. Maintaining speeds of 10 knots or less can help protect right whales from vessel collisions.
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