Two more North Atlantic right whales were found dead in Canadian waters this week, authorities said on Friday.
The announcement marks another blow for the critically endangered species. There are a little more than 400 animals left, and eight of the whales have been found dead in Canadian waters this year, officials said.
Neither of the whales found this week have been individually identified, authorities said, and the exact date, location, and cause of death for those whales was not known Friday.
A spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard said in a statement that one of the dead whales was spotted drifting west of the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during an aerial surveillance flight on Thursday. A necropsy on that animal is expected to take place in Quebec on Sunday.
The other whale was found on Friday off Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. That animal was reported by a fish harvester on June 24, but government vessels were unsuccessful in attempts to relocate the reported dead whale at that time to confirm its identity.
“The Government of Canada takes this issue very seriously and we understand its importance,” said the government spokesman in a statement.
In June, at least six of the whales died in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which prompted Canadian officials to impose more speed restrictions for large vessels in that waterway.
The government has also adjusted “the trigger for fishery closures so that” if a right whale is observed anywhere in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the area of the sighting will close for 15 days for “non-tended fixed-gear fisheries,” authorities said.
The Canadian government estimates it has spent more than 1,150 hours observing North Atlantic right whales since April, with five or more aircraft flying over Atlantic waters on any given day in search for the whales, according to officials.