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Apparent Ship-Strike Critically Injures Right Whale Calf Spotted Near Georgia Coast

NOAA Fisheries Service

A newborn North Atlantic right whale has been injuredby an apparent ship-strike. The animal — one of about 400 left on the planet — was spotted off the coast of Georgia.

The calf was observed from the air Wednesday, swimming with its mother, known as "Derecha." Barb Zoodsma, right whale coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the week-old animal suffered two slices across its head, with dim prospects for its survival.

"If we think about this in human terms and this was a baby, it would be in the NICU right now in a hospital,” Zoodsma says. “That's how serious this is, that's how young this animal is. It's a terrible situation."

Three other calves have been spotted this year, apparently in good health. Their numbers are being closely watched on the east coast, including in Maine.

Lobstermen here could soon face unwanted new federal rules to reduce the amount of trap-rope they put in the water because it poses a risk of entangling more members of the endangered species.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.