The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the death of a North Atlantic right whale that was found floating off the coast of central New Jersey Thursday.
The whale’s identity was confirmed by an aerial survey team from the Center for Coastal Studies at around 3 p.m., NOAA said in a statement.
It is the first observed right whale death in U.S. waters in 2020 but the 31st observed death since 2017 when the endangered whales began dying at a higher rate than normal, according to NOAA.
NOAA is working with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center to secure a location where they can conduct an autopsy on the whale, the statement said.
There are only about 400 living right whales, about 95 of which are breeding females.