right whale

Stephan Savoia / Maine Public

Maine Department of Marine Resources commissioner Patrick Keliher has sent a letter to NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, refuting a recent memo which suggests that the lobster industry may be playing a role in the decline of the North Atlantic Right Whale.

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - The National Marine Fisheries Service is sending more than $6 million to nearly 30 marine conservation projects as part of its Species Recovery Grant Program.

A video still showing Joe Howlett in August of 2016 as he rescued an endangered right whale caught up in a mass of fishing gear.
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Members of the marine mammal rescue and research community are mourning the loss of a Canadian fisherman who died this week after freeing an entangled right whale off the coast of New Brunswick. Joe Howlett of Campobello Island, founded a Canadian whale rescue team and was considered an expert in whale rescue. Now officials at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are suspending whale disentanglements until it can complete a review its own emergency response protocols.

Courtesy Campobello Whale Rescue / Maine Public/file

The recent death of two right whales in the Gulf of Maine and the discovery of another entangled in fishing gear is bringing renewed attention to the plight of the endangered species.

Last Thursday, a right whale was spotted off Provincetown, Mass., swimming, but entangled in gear. Friday, a dead female whale was seen off Boothbay and towed to shore, where its death was determined to be from stress caused by entanglement. Saturday a dead whale was spotted off Mount Desert Rock, but could not be recovered.

Campobello Whale Rescue

PORTLAND, Maine - Scientists say the ability of an endangered whale species to recover is jeopardized by increasing rates of entanglement in fishing gear and a resultant drop in birth rates.

The population of North Atlantic right whales has slowly crept up from about 300 in 1992 to about 500 in 2010. But a study in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science says the number of baby right whales born every year has steeply declined since 2010.

Campobello Whale Rescue

A team of scientists and fishermen rescued an endangered right whale off Campobello Island this weekend, freeing the animal from tangled fishing gear in a five-hour effort.