Oregon Coast Crew Responds to Dead Whale on Washington Beach
(Seaside, Oregon) - A 27-foot Gray Whale washed up onshore on a southern Washington beach this week, and crews from the Seaside Aquarium on the north Oregon coast and the Cascadia Research group responded to the scene. Aquarium crew members helped secure the area to keep the public from getting too close.
All photos here by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium.
The animal had been dead for some time, said Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. It washed ashore north of Long Beach, Washington, near the Klipson Beach approach.
“Though this may be a unique opportunity to see a whale, please remember that dead marine mammals can they carry diseases and it is also a federal crime to remove any parts from a marine mammal,” Boothe said.
Dead mammals on beaches also pose health risks to pets.
Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said authorities have not removed the whale and have so far left it to the birds to pick apart. The beach where it washed up is also quite remote, leaving little chance of causing a health issue.
Boothe said the Cascadia Research group took some tissue samples for analysis. Among the finds sampled – which are present on every whale – include the Gray Whale Barnacle and Whale Lice.
A Gray Whale Barnacle (Cryptolepas rhachianecti) is a species of barnacle which grow/live only on Gray Whales. See photo below.
Whale Lice are not quite like they sound. They are parasites that are actually about the size of a quarter and not of the kind that humans or other mammals get. They live on the whale and feed on the skin and damaged tissue of the whale. See photo below.
Boothe said up to 1000 of these parasites have been found on a single gray whale. Schools of small fish (mainly topsmelt) will pick at the barnacles and whale lice encrusting the whale's skin.
It is currently right in the middle of Whale Watch Week on the Oregon coast as the grays are currently migrating up the coast to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska.
Gray whale barnacle.
Whale's baleen, which is used to filter food through.
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