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N. Oregon Coast Baby Whale Moves in Mysterious Ways - Vanishing Then Reappears

Published 12/14/2016 at 6:33 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Aquarium's Keith Chandler tries to secure the deceased baby whale

(Seaside, Oregon) – Another case of a whale disappearing and reappearing has happened on the north Oregon coast. The most recent was back in September when a 38-foot Humpback washed in and then washed back a couple of times, but now a baby gray whale has pulled the same disappearing act. (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. Above: the Aquarium's Keith Chandler tries to secure the deceased baby whale.)

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Humpback has left a sizable memorial on the north Oregon coast.

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium said a deceased gray whale calf came ashore Tuesday at Gearhart, just south of the driving zone, sometime over night. A male measuring only ten feet, staff believed it was likely stillborn. It had been dead for some time, and Boothe said other ocean predators had been picking at it already.

“The whale had been heavily scavenged upon by sharks before washing ashore,” she said.

Knowing they were working with the high waves of the king tides happening at this, they tried to secure the corpse to move it further back up the beach so it wouldn't wash away.

“We did try to secure the animal when it first washed in, but even though it was a very small whale we were still unable to pull it up higher on the beach,” Boothe said.

Then, they got the call of a sea lion body stranded several miles away, by the wreck of the Peter Iredale in Warrenton, and had to leave behind this scene for that event. After that and a brief lunch, they returned to the baby whale corpse around noon only to find it had been taken out to sea.


“We scheduled the calf’s necropsy for this afternoon, but when we showed up we discovered that the whale had disappeared off of the beach,” Boothe said. “And like the Humpback that washed ashore at Falcon Cove in September and then washed back out the next day leaving only a kidney behind, the only evidence that this calf had been on Gearhart beach was a small isolated pile of intestines.”

Then this morning, an interesting stroke of luck.

“Today we were getting ready to go look for it and someone called in, saying it was around 16th Ave. in Seaside,” Boothe said.

Also lucky for the crew: the City of Seaside arrived there first and grabbed the baby whale with a loader and brought it farther back from the tides.

This time the crew was able to perform a partial necropsy but nothing concrete was found. Boothe said the heart and lungs were sent to PSU to determine if it was stillborn or not.

“It's a little too early for a gray whale to be born,” Boothe said. “Usually they're born in January and February. And right now they're migrating south to give birth in the waters off Baja.”


Boothe added that the big Humpack from September that had finally landed at Oswald West State Park's Short Sands Beach area is still visible there (above). A massive chunk of its skull still sits on the beach, and it is not likely to go anywhere soon.

Boothe said there was no means to get large equipment down to that well-known surfing hotspot to bury it, so it simply decayed over the fall months and storms. For a time, parts of its skeleton were still visible, but that slowly broke into pieces with the big Oregon coast storms of recent weeks, leaving only the skull. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours


Below: shots of the whale incident from September



 

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