Initial necropsy results on the dead blue whale washed ashore northern California revealed that the whale most likely died after being struck by a ship.
Found at Agate Beach in Bolinas, the 79 feet long female blue whale appears to have a major blunt force trauma along its left side.
“We found out that it was blunt force trauma due to a boat strike,” said Barbie Halaska, a biologist and research assistant at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, in a report from Mercury News. “The whole left side of her body was damaged. We found 10 broken ribs and 10 fractured vertebrae near the tail and mid-body.”
According to the report from the Huffington Post, the dead blue whale is included in the database of Cascadia Research Collective. They noted that the tail of the blue whale is similar to the photographs in the database. This whale has been spotted 11 different years since 1999 and was most often observed off Santa Barbara.
Aside from the broken ribs and vertebrae, the blue whale also suffered hemorrhage and necrotic muscle along its left side. Its skull also shows signs of blunt force trauma.
The death of the whale is surely saddening. However, the scientific community sees this event as an opportunity to study a fresh carcass of a blue whale.
“It is a tragedy that this whale’s story ended due to vessel collision,” commented Halaska in a report from SF Gate. “These types of examinations have enabled the scientific community to make recommendations for slower shipping speeds and route changes, and hopefully that will help future whales.”
Full necropsy report will be available in two weeks. The carcass of the whale was left on the beach decay or be eaten by birds. Towing the whale’s body back to the sea is difficult due to the reef along the Agate beach.