RODANTHE, N.C. — A North Atlantic right whale was found entangled off the coast of North Carolina's Outer Banks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
A survey team with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida found the whale, a 4-year-old female, 20 miles east of Rodanthe, North Carolina, on Jan. 8. She had several lines wrapped around her mouth and tails, along with an additional line trailing behind her.
The NOAA said after reviewing the situation, biologists decided that the whale meets the criteria of a "serious injury," meaning she is likely to die. Pictures taken on Sunday found that the whale had several wounds across her body and whale lice on her head.
The administration's entanglement response teams didn't respond when they sighted the whale because it was too late in the day and she was too far off the shore. But experts and responders will work to find her again as conditions get better.
From there, NOAA said it will continue to document the entanglement and see if a response is possible.
Prior to this, the whale was last seen in Massachusetts Bay in May 2022. She wasn't entangled at the time. She is the daughter of a right whale named “Spindle,” who was recently seen off St. Catherines Island, Georgia, with a new calf.
The administration said the whale is the 94th documented in an "unusual mortality event" declared since 2017, which includes dead, injured and sick whales, and who represent more than 20 percent of the population.
According to NOAA, researchers estimate there are less than 70 reproductively active females remaining. Those who encounter a whale that could be entangled are asked to reach out to the experts and not intervene.