What scientists have called one of the “rarest mammals on Earth” has washed up dead on a North Carolina beach, the National Park Services said. Biologists performed a necropsy on the North Atlantic right whale calf and took DNA samples Saturday, CBS News reports after the mammal washed up ashore at Cape Lookout National Seashore.
North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered. The park service says only about 360 of the animals are still alive and about five or six calves are born each year.
"Each new right whale calf brings so much hope for this critically endangered species, and losses like this have a substantial impact on their recovery," NOAA said in a news release on Monday. "Their population has been experiencing a significant decline and high juvenile and adult mortality in recent years."
NOAA said the species of whale has been experiencing an "unusual mortality event" since 2017, during which time at least 32 dead and 13 seriously injured whales were reported.
"This represents more than 10% of the remaining population," NOAA said.