Monday, 15 April 2013

Half of the body of dead 70-foot whale washes ashore on a Washington beach

Half of the body of dead 70-foot whale washes ashore on a Washington beach, Biologists are working to determine how a 70-foot whale died after half of its body washed up on a Washington state beach Saturday morning (April 13).

KING5-TV reported the dead fin whale washed up on the beach at Seahurst Park in Burien at about 10:30 a.m. PDT Saturday.

View slideshow: 70-foot whale washes up dead on a Washington beach (April 13, 2013)
The Coast Guard started getting reports about the whale as it floated about 100 yards off Three Tree Point before it eventually floated on shore.

Officials said that half of its body was missing when it was found.

While fin whales are found in all oceans of the world, they are rare in Washington's Puget Sound, and one theory is that it was brought in by a ship that struck it while out at sea.

"This point we are fairly convinced this was a ship strike mortality. The whale was hit by a ship when it was still alive. We see areas of bruising and blood infused into the blubber, which means the whale was alive when struck. We see signs [of] paint from a ship," said John Calambokidis, research biologist with Cascadia Research.

Biologists say fin whales are among the most susceptible to being hit by a ship because they don't dive very deeply and spend a lot of time close to the surface while they're feeding.

"We found almost a third of the whales we've examined in the last ten years show signs of being struck by ships," said Calambokidis.

"So this is an increasing problem with more ships, faster, larger ships, this has become a concern for recovering some of these whale populations," he explained.

Fin whales may migrate to subtropical waters for mating and calving during the winter months and to the colder areas of the Arctic and Antarctic for feeding during the summer months, though recent evidence suggests that fin whales may disperse into deep ocean waters during winter rather than migrating between winter and summer regions, according to

A crew with Cascadia Research will perform the necropsy on the remains of the dead whale to confirm the exact cause of death.

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