NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the third death of a rare North Atlantic right whale this year has been confirmed.
NOAA and conservationists are keeping a close eye on the right whale population because of high mortality and low reproduction in recent years. The agency says a right whale carcass was found floating about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Nantucket on Sunday.
NOAA says photographs of the animal show wounds consistent with entanglement. Entanglement in fishing gear is a significant cause of death for right whales. The agency says it's still too early to speculate on a cause of death, though.
Right whales number no more than 450. About 4 percent of the animal's population died in 2017. No new calves were spotted this year.
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