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Injured right whale calf being monitored, given antibiotics

The darting team prepares the antibiotic dart before administering it.
The darting team prepares the antibiotic dart before administering it. - NOAA

A North Atlantic right whale calf that was found to be injured earlier this month is being monitored by biologists, veterinarians and aerial crews. 

The calf is the youngest of four that have been born in the 2019-2020  calving season and is said to have suffered serious injuries. 

According to a statement by the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, the calf has received antibiotics to "give the baby a fighting chance".

"The prognosis remains poor, but there have been older whales with grave injuries who have made a recovery," continued the statement.

The first North Atlantic right whale baby of the 2019-2020 calving season was spotted off the coast of Georgia in December. 

In an article previously published by the Journal Pioneer wildlife pathologist, Dr. Laura Bourque said the injury could be life-threatening. 

"The injuries appear to involve the mouth and lips and extend ventrally towards the eye. If the calf’s ability to feed, or if the blowhole or eye is affected, this would have a severely negative impact on a rapidly growing calf’s ability to survive."

She said the focus needs to be on preventing injuries from happening in the first place, rather than trying to fix and treat whales after they are injured. 

The species of the North Atlantic right whales have been classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 1970. They are the world’s most endangered whale species, with only 400 left in the oceans, according to the NOAA Fisheries Service’s website. 

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