PROVINCETOWN (CBS) -- A rare right whale that gave birth in December while entangled in rope is back in the waters off Cape Cod.
Snow Cone and her calf were spotted on the Atlantic side of the Outer Cape over the weekend. In May of last year, teams from the Center for Coastal Studies removed 300 feet of rope that was wrapped around the 17-year-old mom, but she took off with some of it still attached.
She had been spotted with her calf in Georgia, but now they've made the thousand-mile journey back north, even though mom still has rope embedded in her jaw. The Center for Coastal Studies says Snow Cone, who lost her first calf to a ship strike in 2020, "is a survivor."
"She didn't look awful, but she is noticeably skinnier," said researcher Ryan Schosberg, who spotted Snow Cone from a plane on Saturday. "She hadn't been sighted since being in the southeast about nine weeks ago and we were wondering if she'd come to Cape Cod Bay or if she would pass us by or if we wouldn't see her again, so it's a relief that she's still alive and that her calf looks good."
Scientists worry that wounds caused by the rope could become infected and lead to sepsis.
So far, researchers have seen about 221 right whales around Cape Cod Bay, including 15 new mothers with calves. It's believed there are only 336 North Atlantic right whales left on the planet.
for more features.