Scientists in Gulf of St. Lawrence see four of seven right whale calves born this year

A leading expert on North Atlantic right whales says a recent trip in the Gulf of St. Lawrence made multiple sightings of the endangered animals, including four of the seven calves born last winter.

Amy Knowlton, a scientist with the New England Aquarium in Boston, calls the sightings of the young whales encouraging news during a season in which eight whales have died in the gulf.

Knowlton says the 15-day research trip in the southern gulf featured 199 right whale sightings and documented at least 70 individual whales, which can be identified by distinctive markings at the top of their heads.

She said another encouraging sign was the lack of vessel activity and the sighting of only a few sets of drifting “ghost” fishing gear where the whales were feeding, south of the gulf’s major shipping lanes.

Knowlton says it’s as if the whales have been given a “little break.”

Of the eight right whale deaths this year, three were due to vessel strikes and none has so far been linked to fishing gear entanglement.

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