Dragon, a female North Atlantic right whale, has been discovered entangled off the coast of Nantucket. She is currently in declining health, and has a buoy lodged in her mouth.
This news is particularly unsettling since we have watched Dragon from birth through maturity, and have chronicled her journey through motherhood.
The left photo depicts Dragon in her current, emaciated state, while the right photo shows Dragon and her calf in 2016 when she was healthy.
As one of only 411 right whales remaining, reproductive females like Dragon are increasingly more important.
“The hope for this species rides on the broad backs of these calving females. I fear we will lose this whale just as she enters what should be the prime of her reproductive life,” said Philip Hamilton, Aquarium research scientist.
The Aquarium has documented over 1,500 entanglements since 1980 and has observed a steadily increasing level of related injuries and deaths.
Scientists with our Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life have been studying fishing practices, including ropeless lobster gear and weaker, break-away ropes, in collaboration with fishermen to help prevent entanglements like Dragon’s.