Nature

Young Humpback Whale Found in Ocean Shores, Dead Due to Blunt Force Trauma

A 3.5-foot long juvenile whale was found beached in Ocean Shores. It died from what appears to be blunt force trauma despite its being in good nutritional condition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced. 

NOAA spokesperson Micheal Milstein ruled the death to blunt force trauma consistent with a ship strike. More information on the death of the young humpback whale will be released next week.

Earlier this month, a humpback whale struck by a state ferry in Puget Sound. But the whale has not been found yet.

READ: Sperm Whale Trapped in Fishing Net: A Struggle for Rescuers

Young Humpback Whale Found Dead in Ocean Shores Died from Blunt Force Trauma

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A 3.5-foot-long juvenile whale was found beached in Ocean Shores died from what appears to be “blunt force trauma” despite it being in “good nutritional condition,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.


Humpback Whale Struck by a Ferry

Earlier in July, a humpback whale was reportedly struck by a state ferry, although the animal has not been found yet.

A pair of a whale was spotted on Monday: a more massive whale and a smaller whale. According to witnesses, they saw an animal surface directly in front of the ferry M/V Tokitae approaching a terminal.

The smaller whale appeared disoriented and then sunk beneath the surface. Bart Rulon of the Puget Sound Express said they have not since the smaller whale since.

A search team from NOAA was dispatched on Tuesday, a day after the incident, but it did not continue until Wednesday.

Washington State Ferries is investigating the incident. Crew and passengers said that they did not notice the imminent strike and were unaware of any event.

According to NOAA, they could not locate the smaller whale, but the more massive whale was spotted on Monday night. 

READ ALSO: Hong Kong’s Rare Pink Dolphins at Higher Risk of Disappearing

A gash in the whale’s flesh and scuff marks in the side was spotted. The photos used to determine the whale shark’s injuries were new and were not present when it was placed on July 4 and 5.

Dana Warr of Washington State Ferries said that the state investigation on the incident is still ongoing. NOAA deems that the animal was struck. The whale seems to have appeared right under the bow, which the crew on the bridge might not have noticed.

Christopher Hanke, the captain of Sarasota, a whale sight-seeing boat, said he earlier spotted a pair of humpback whales in the ferry dock, so he alerted the nearby ferries, which then acknowledged the call but may have been too late.

He added that the ferry followed its system: the fleet was alerted of the whale’s presence, and Tokitae began slowing down.

However, ferries take longer distances to stop compared to smaller craft. Warr said it often takes hundreds of feet to slow down from cruising speed. He further explained that

The captain must have been looking way out in front, not ten feet in front of the boat. He must have stopped too late already.


Second Ferry Stroke Incidence 

In May 2019, a ferry struck and killed a juvenile whale in Elliot Bay. 

The whale emerged right in front of the boat and was hit and was then spotted bleeding nearby.

At that time, a Washington State Ferries captain explained that they had difficulty predicting the whale’s movement. The last similar incident recorded was 30 to 40 years ago. 

Warr said that two incidences of boats hitting whales in a year is very unfortunate and rare.

READ NEXT: Wild Dolphins Apparently Have a Range of Personalities

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