The remains of a North Atlantic right whale found this week on Nantucket, Mass.

The remains of a North Atlantic right whale found this week on Nantucket, Mass.
Scientists say they cannot determine what may have killed the right whale that washed up on Nantucket over the weekend.

A whale carcass was discovered on a Medaket beach on Sunday. Research teams from the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution arrived on Monday but were unable to gather much information.

The animal had decomposed to the point where scientists could not determine its gender or what may have led to its death. The length of the whale was somewhere between 13 and 14 meters.

"Scientists will use the information and samples collected to determine if this whale is a previously documented right whale carcass or a new morality," said Melanie Mahoney, a spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

A dozen right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters this year, with at least four more discovered in the United States.

There have only been five confirmed right whale births this year.

Officials estimate that only about 450 North Atlantic right whales remain in existence.

The Canadian government is working on a series of initiatives to try and protect the critically endangered whales.

The plan calls for introducing a requirement for a 300 foot buffer zone between vessels and many marine mammals, right whales included.

The government is also weighing a plan to introduce aerial surveillance to monitor right whale feeding areas.

Other options under consideration include the reduction or modification of fishing gear, reducing the number of boats permitted to be on the water at a time, imposing stricter speed limitations on boats in the area or the whales, or moving up the start of fishing season to a time before the whales migrate north.

A large portion of the remaining worldwide population comes to Cape Cod Bay every year to feed on plankton.