Unique Gargantuan Specimen Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – Staff at Seaside Aquarium are reporting a unique find on a beach at Gearhart: an Elephant seal of unusually large proportions. (All photos Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)
“Though these animals range from Mexico all the way up to Alaska, we usually only see an elephant seal of this size once every few years, making this animal a very valuable specimen,” said Tiffany Boothe of the aquarium.
The Elephant seal is ten feet long and an almost completely mature male. Fully mature males can exceed 13 feet and weigh over 4,000 pounds.
“In our area we mostly see the juveniles as they haul up on the beach to molt but even that is not a common occurrence,” Boothe said. “The Northern Elephant seal is the second largest seal in the world, coming in second to the Southern Elephant seal.”
The seal washed up in Gearhart, on the north Oregon coast, near the 10th street access on Tuesday. Staff from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network hit the scene of the rare stranding the following day. The team was comprised of both aquarium staff and scientists from the network's headquarters in Portland, including Dr. Debbie Duffield and Dalin D'Alessandro from Portland State University. The group performed a necropsy on the seal to determine its cause of death and gather other data.
Boothe said during the necropsy organ and tissue samples were taken. The skeleton was also fully recovered in the hopes that it will be cleaned and re-articulated later at PSU. The tissues will be sent to labs for analysis.
“No abnormalities were seen while performing the necropsy,” Boothe said. “A closer look at the organs and the analysis of the tissues will hopefully give us a better idea about what happened to this animal.”
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