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Right whale entangled in rope spotted off Cape Cod with new calf

Snow Cone, a 17-year-old North Atlantic right whale that has been entangled in rope, was spotted in the waters off of Cape Cod on Saturday and Sunday.Center for Coastal Studies

A North Atlantic right whale that gave birth while entangled in rope was spotted with her calf in the waters off Cape Cod over the weekend, according to the Provincetown-based Center for Coastal Studies.

Researchers have been trying for more than a year to untangle the 17-year-old whale that they’ve named Snow Cone.

In March of 2021, the center’s Marine Animal Entanglement Response team removed 300 feet of rope when Snow Cone was seen near Plymouth. More rope was cut away last May by the Campobello Whale Rescue Team that spotted Snow Cone off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada, but she continues to carry “a length of rope embedded in her jaw,” the center said in a statement Sunday.


Snow Cone went on to make the 1,300-mile migration south to Georgia, where she gave birth in December, the center said. Snow Cone and her calf then made the journey back north where they were seen Saturday and Sunday off the outer Cape by aerial observers from the Center for Coastal Studies.

“She didn’t look awful, but she is noticeably skinnier,” Ryan Schosberg, one of the observers, said in the statement. “She hadn’t been sighted since being in the southeast about nine weeks ago and we were wondering if she’d come to Cape Cod Bay or if she would pass us by or if we wouldn’t see her again, so it’s a relief that she’s still alive and that her calf looks good.”

Researchers in Georgia first saw Snow Cone with her new calf in December and considered attempting to remove more of the rope but decided it would be too dangerous with the calf swimming by her side, the statement said.

Snow Cone lost her first calf in 2020 when it was struck by a ship. Researchers say they’re concerned that her life could be at risk if she remains entangled in the rope, which causes wounds that can become infected and lead to sepsis, the statement said.


Approximately 221 right whales, including 15 new mothers with their calves, have been spotted in or near Cape Cod Bay for their annual migration north since the first one arrived in late December, the statement said. Researchers estimate there are 336 North Atlantic right whales in the ocean.

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.