Saturday, 22 June 2013

Fin whale killed by ship strike off Washington

Dead Fin whale washes up at Ocean City - June 2013

June 2013. Biologists from Cascadia Research and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have conducted an examination of a dead Fin whale found on a beach in Washington State.

Ship strike
The 68-foot adult male Fin whale had been in fairly good health prior to death with a healthy oily blubber layer and evidence of having fed recently based on stomach contents. There was substantial bruising in the blubber and underlying tissues on the left side of the head and the upper and lower left jaw indicating severe blunt force trauma consistent with having been killed by collision with a ship.

Ship strikes
This is the 11th Fin whale to have stranded in Washington State since 2002, and the 2nd Fin whale to strand this. Ship strike has been indicated in 9 of the 11 cases. Ship strikes are a growing concern with several west coast species of whales, particularly Blue and Fin whales. In addition to these documented cases, scientists suspect that these may only represent a tenth or less of the true number occurring since most whales that die never wash ashore and either sink or drift offshore.

Fin whales are the 2nd largest animal that has ever lived, only surpassed by the slightly larger Blue whale. Several thousand Fin whales feed off the US West Coast, generally in deeper waters 30 or more miles offshore, feeding on small fish and krill. Their populations have been generally increasing as they recover from commercial whaling.

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