It feels like a death in the family.
The New England Aquarium Right Whale Research Program has just released confirmation of the death of the 13th right whale.
Couplet, #2123, was found on Monday, east of Cape Cod.
It has been a catastrophic summer for these magnificent whales who make their home up and down the east coast, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy, where you were critical to our success in stopping the Digby Quarry, and fighting against tankers from the Energy East Pipeline in this unique home for whales.
The loss of 13 individuals in the estimated population is equal to nearly 3% of the entire North Atlantic population.
As many as 15 deaths may have occurred, with reports of two other right whale bodies whose sightings at the moment cannot confirm if they are among the 13, or if, in fact, they are 2 additional mortalities.
Couplet was a known whale and had given birth to and mothered 5 calves, as reported by NEAQs.
She would never have been aware of the circle of care that was surrounding her nor all of the committed folks who have been working to try to keep her safe and shield her from what is now very likely her unnecessary death – the researchers who have known and watched her since she was a baby, people in groups like Sierra Club fiercely advocating to help her, the unbelievably brave teams of rescuers who risk their own lives to disentangle whales in trouble, and the committed supporters who fund the work that enforces legislation to protect them and who demand urgent action with their individual voices.
As tragic as this is, there is nothing we can do for Couplet now – she is gone.
But what we can do is build a fortress around the calves she raised, and her remaining brethren.
We are in the midst of a make-or-break court challenge to do just that. These whales face unrelenting threats that are killing them – ship strikes, entanglements, the threat of seismic testing in their waters and the looming reckless proposals to drill for oil and gas in their sanctuaries. Our court challenge will be critical to alleviating some of the burden of these threats, and we are in this to win - in their name.
Right now, they need heroes and angels. No other factor will save the remaining North Atlantic right whales. It’s you and it’s me.
Thank you for continuing to demand protection for one of the planet’s most endangered species. Thank you for funding our immediate challenging work in the courts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its precious marine residents. Thank you for standing with whales like Couplet who urgently require protection.
Director of Development and Communications