The first dead critically endangered North Atlantic right whale of 2019 has been spotted in Canada's Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the fisheries and oceans department said Wednesday.
The ministry said in a release that the animal carcass had been spotted drifting in the channel during an aerial surveillance flight on June 4.
"We are currently assessing the recovery and necropsy options," it said.
The Canadian government stepped up tracking of right whales after more than a dozen were found dead in 2017 in the busy seaway and off the coast of New England in the United States, which had prompted concern from marine biologists.
The area is home to nearly one quarter of the world's last 411 right whales, according to the most recent government figures.
The Marine Animal Response Society, which is working with the department, identified the deceased animal as a nine-year-old male known to researchers as Wolverine.
No deaths were reported last year.
Ottawa last year restricted snow crab fishing and the speeds of boats travelling in the Saint Lawrence seaway to prevent more deaths.
Conservation officials say that North Atlantic right whales are among the most threatened species in the world.
© 2019 AFP