June 27 (UPI) -- The carcass of an endangered North Atlantic right whale was spotted off the Gaspe Peninsula in the Gulf of St. Lawerence during an aerial surveillance flight Thursday, bringing the number of dead right whales in Canadian waters to six for this year.
"We are currently assessing the recovery and necropsy options," Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in a tweet.
The deaths have prompted Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to introduce interim precautionary speed restrictions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to 10 knots for vessels of 20 meters or more in length.
"The government of Canada takes the protection, conservation and recovery of endangered species very seriously," Garneau said in a statement. "For the past three years, our government has taken concrete action to help protect the North Atlantic right whales, who have been increasingly present in the Gulf of St. Lawerence in recent years."
The current batch of whale deaths in the area began on June 4, when the carcass of a whale named Wolverine was discovered in the St. Lawerence River.
On June 20, the body of a right whale was found and towed to Petit Etang, Nova Scotia, where a necropsy was performed, with preliminary findings showing that its probable cause of death was due to "sharp trauma, consistent with vessel strike," Fisheries and Oceans Canada said.
"Protecting our endangered North Atlantic right whales is an important task, one that our government takes seriously," Garneau said. "We will continue to work with our partners to ensure the safety of these marine mammals, as well as vessels and crew."