Whale Snared in Ropes Gives Birth to Miracle Calf

Endangered baby looks healthy, but biologists fear for mom
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2021 4:30 PM CST
Right Whale Gives Birth While Snared in Ropes
This Dec. 2, 2021, photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources shows an endangered North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing rope being sighted with a newborn calf in waters near Cumberland Island, Ga.   (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA Permit #20556 via AP)

A critically endangered right whale was spotted tangled in fishing rope off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts in March. She was spotted again recently near Georgia—with a newborn calf. Wildlife photographers captured shots of the miracle mom with rope snagged in her mouth, with a calf trailing her unencumbered by rope, WRDW reports. Department of Natural Resources authorities in Georgia say they don’t think the calf will become entangled, too, because rescuers had earlier managed to shorten the rope, and don’t think the snare is life-threatening. The DNR workers who trimmed the rope and tried to free the whale nicknamed her Snow Cone.

Snow Cone and her calf were spotted about 10 miles off of Georgia’s barrier islands on Dec. 2. The baby, the second of the endangered species to be spotted this year, looks healthy, Newsweek reports. But Clay George, a DNR biologist, is worried about Snow Cone. The strain of coping with the stress and difficulty eating because of the fishing ropes, combined with the toll of nursing a newborn, could be a “death sentence,” he told the AP. There are three species of right whales, also called black whales. Snow Cone is believed to be a North Atlantic right whale; there are also North Pacific right whales and Southern right whales. There may be as few as 350 whales like Snow Cone in the world, and births are rare. Pregnancies last a year, and whales go six to 10 years without giving birth. (More endangered species stories.)

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