Experts Searching for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Spotted Entangled Near Quebec

·1 min read
North Atlantic Right Whale
North Atlantic Right Whale

Getty

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is searching for an endangered North Atlantic right whale sighted on Thursday tangled in some kind of gear.

The whale — identified as a 14-year-old female named Sundog — was spotted near Gaspé, Quebec, and was previously seen in March near Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

"Marine mammal response partners are on stand-by to attempt disentanglement in the coming days, if weather and sea conditions allow," the organization said. "We don't yet know the type of gear the whale is entangled in or where the gear came from."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

North Atlantic right whale
North Atlantic right whale

Blue World Research Institute. Images taken under NOAA Research Permit 20556-01 North Atlantic right whales

RELATED: Drone Footage Captures Rare Moment of Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales 'Hugging'

Following news of the search, Gib Brogan, Oceana fisheries campaign director, stressed how deadly entanglements can be for marine mammals.

"It's disheartening and frustrating to see yet another North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing gear," Brogan said in a statement. "We know that fishing gear entanglements are a top threat to this critically endangered species, and this entanglement is the result of continued ineffective management of this risk. Anywhere where whales and rope intersect, deadly entanglements can occur."

"The U.S. and Canadian governments should adopt proven safeguards that will eliminate entanglement risk in times and places where right whales swim," he added. "Because this species is so depleted, with only around 330 whales remaining, this single entanglement is excessive and, if severe, will set the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale back."

The critically endangered species' population hit a 20-year low in 2020. In October, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium announced that an estimated 336 North Atlantic right whales remain in the wild.