Heavy Winds Land Big Creatures on Oregon and Washington Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – Crews from the Seaside Aquarium responded to the beach strandings of several large sea creatures this weekend, as a 39-foot sperm whale and a 13-foot gray whale – both dead – washed ashore on the southern Washington coast. The heavy winds and rough seas of the last few days have brought many things ashore onto the Oregon coast, and these two massive creatures were just a sampling. (Above: the baby gray whale - all photos by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium).
The sperm whale washed ashore 6.9 miles north of Seaview, Washington on Saturday, while the gray whale came up just of Oysterville on Sunday.
The decaying sperm whale - photo Boothe
“Both whales had been dead quite a while before washing ashore,” said Tiffany Boothe of the aquarium.
The Seaside Aquarium is part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which responds to sea creatures hitting the beaches.
The sperm whale was in a bad state of decay – so bad that part of its backbone was found elsewhere on the beach, away from its body.
Seagulls have already started to feast on the larger, decayed whale - photo Boothe
Dr. Debbie Duffield from Portland State University plans on doing a necropsy on both of the animals on Monday, however the bad shape of the larger whale may make that difficult.
“Scientifically, the most important part of the sperm whale has already been recovered: the jaw,” Boothe said. “Due to the fact that the sperm whale has been dead for a long time, very little information will be obtained by the necropsy. The gray whale is in a little better condition and we hope that after the necropsy we will know why that particular animal died.”
A close-up of the baby whale - photo Boothe
A dead sea lion was dealt with in the area, and some injured birds were rescued.
Boothe noted there were still neonatal folds on the body of the baby whale and neonatal hairs, indicating it was born fairly recently.
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