Endangered whale found dead off of Virginia

Credit: Michelle Clegg

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Federal ocean managers are investigating the death of an endangered right whale off of the coast of Virginia.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the whale was found dead off the coast near the North Carolina border on Jan. 22. North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered marine mammals, and they are coming off a year of high mortality in 2017.

NOAA says the whale was a young female, and was approximately 30 feet long. The whale appeared to have become entangled in some kind of line. Entanglement in fishing line and ship strikes are two causes of right whale deaths.

On Saturday, the tug Cape Henry Express was able to secure the whale carcass and towed it to the Virginia Beach area. A necropsy will be conducted today.

There are less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left. NOAA says the animal found dead off of Virginia is the first reported mortality of 2018. At least 17 died in U.S. and Canadian waters last year.