Officials said a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale has been found dead off the coast of South Carolina. 

The tail of a right whale, tangled in blue rope and fishing equipment

The tail of a right whale, tangled in a fishing gear off the coast South Atlantic Coast

Credit: Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA research permit 18786

The National Marine Fisheries Service said in a news release Sunday the dead adult whale was spotted off the coast of Myrtle Beach. 

The agency said the same right whale had been entangled in ropes from fishing gear at least since October, when it was sighted swimming with fishing line extending from its mouth past its tail. The whale was spotted again in February off Florida and a team of experts was dispatched, but was unable to free the ropes.

READ FURTHER: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Taking Input On New Rules to Prevent Right Whale Entanglements

Fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales are believed to survive. The fisheries service said 34 right whales have been confirmed dead in the U.S. and Canada since 2017.