MONCTON, N.B.—The federal fisheries department is trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada.
She said it’s too early to tell if the deaths are connected, but the department is doing everything it can to protect the remaining population.
“It has potential quite negative implications for the ability of that population to recover,” Merriman said in an interview Saturday. “There’s a lot of work and a lot of effort needed to try and understand what is happening, and hopefully it’s something that can be prevented, but we really just know nothing right now.”
The fisheries department has dispatched aircraft and Canadian Coast Guard vessels to locate, tag and get biological samples from the dead whales, and is looking into towing one of the carcasses to land so a post-mortem can be conducted.
The department is working with partners in Canada and the U.S. to find out what happened to prevent further deaths, said Merriman.
“There’s no one agency or organization that can do this,” she said. “It’s a pretty complex operation that’s going on right now to bring everyone’s expertise together to make sure we do everything we can.”