BOSTON — Researchers conducting an aerial survey south of Nantucket last week spotted a reproductive female right whale known as Dragon entangled in fishing gear and in very poor condition.
Researchers with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were conducting the aerial survey on Feb. 24 when they spotted Dragon with a buoy lodged into the right side of its mouth.
The whale appeared emaciated with unhealthy looking skin, according to a news release from the New England Aquarium, and the buoy is preventing her mouth from closing.
Aerial photos indicate the whale’s skin is infested with orange cyamids, a kind of lice that focuses on areas where there is an injury.
Dragon is a 19-year-old female right whale who is well-known to researchers.
According to the release, 86.1 percent of right whales have been entangled at least once in their lives.
Last month, a right whale calf was spotted off Georgia with injuries consistent with the propeller of a vessel.