Entangled North Atlantic Right Whale Spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence - Oceana Canada

Entangled North Atlantic Right Whale Spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Press Release Date: May 10, 2024

Ottawa, Canada/Washington, DC — On May 10, 2024, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) spotted an entangled adult female North Atlantic right whale known as EG4510 – Shelagh. The whale was seen with gear entangled around the mouth during routine aerial surveillance in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula and northwest of the Magdalen Islands. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Marine Mammal Response Program will continue to monitor the situation to determine response options and, if weather and sea conditions allow, efforts will be made to attempt disentanglement.

In response to the news, Oceana released the following statements:

Kim Elmslie, campaign director at Oceana in Canada:

“Another female adult right whale is entangled in fishing gear, underscoring the urgent need for DFO to accelerate the transition to ropeless and on-demand fishing gear. This innovative technology can allow a thriving fishing industry to continue without putting critically endangered whales at risk of entanglement. With only 356 North Atlantic right whales remaining, each entanglement significantly impacts this already fragile population. A swift and well-supported transition to ropeless gear is a win-win and DFO must adopt this technology, before it’s too late.

This marks the second entanglement incident for this particular whale, Shelagh, which was entangled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off Miscou Island, New Brunswick in 2017.”

Gib Brogan, campaign director at Oceana in the United States:

“Once again, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale is entangled in fishing gear that could have been prevented if proper regulations were in place. While we wait to see if Shelagh can be disentangled, this whale becomes the latest example of the ongoing threat to this species posed by an utter lack of protections. While we don’t yet know the origins of the rope dragging in this whale’s mouth, we do know that where there is rope, there is a danger to North Atlantic right whales. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is long overdue at establishing effective safeguards for North Atlantic right whales that prevent entanglements and simultaneously allow fisheries to operate in a truly sustainable way. The question is whether the U.S. and Canadian governments will act in time to save this species or knowingly watch it slide into extinction.”


Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to ban single-use plastics, end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future. Find out more at www.oceana.ca.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 300 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.