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Humpback Whale Washes Up on South Washington Coast, Oregon Crew Responds

Published 08/31/21 at 4:36 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Humpback Whale Washes Up on South Washington Coast, Oregon Crew Responds

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(Ocean Park, Washington) – A deceased Humpback washed up on the southern Washington coast Sunday, and Oregon's arm of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network responded to the scene to document what they could and prepare it for future testing. (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

The Seaside Aquarium on the north Oregon coast is the portion of the network that deals with southern Washington's coastline, and it was the aquarium's Tiffany Boothe who took photos and sent out word to media.

Boothe said the 43-foot whale at Ocean Park, Washington had been dead for quite some time, and it stinks badly due to its advanced decomposition.

“There were a lot of people interested in driving up and seeing the whale, smelling it was another story,” Boothe said.

A necropsy will be done on the beach later in the week to determine why it died, but Boothe said the likelihood of finding that is slim since the corpse is so far gone.

Right about now is a good time to start seeing Humpbacks along this part of the Washington coast and the northern coast of Oregon.

“During the summer months some Humpbacks stop and feed along the Oregon coast,” Boothe told Oregon Coast Beach Connection in 2019. “They tend to stay five to fifteen miles offshore, but they will also go where the food is. September is the best time to see Humpbacks (especially from shore). This is because typically the weather is nicer and the ocean is calm.”

Humpbacks and some Orcas often show up this time of year chasing baitfish in the region and into the mouth of the Columbia River.

“A small handful of individuals have been known to brave the Columbia River when smolt runs are prolific and can spend a few days or a few weeks within the lower reaches of the river consuming up to 3,000 pounds of krill and small fish per day,” Boothe said. “A few great locations to see the river-exploring whales include Hammond Marina and Cape Disappointment State Park.”

However, this spectacle has not materialized yet.

Humpback whales are part of the baleen whale suborder and are quite common in the Pacific ocean, as they are in most oceans around the world. They are known for breaching and their complex whale songs. They can live up to 50 years in the wild, reaching their reproductive stage at five to ten years old. On average, they weigh about 40 tons. You find Humpbacks in all major oceans around the planet, she said, but each population segment has their own individual migration patterns and home waters.

“Regional humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangilae) can be spotted breaching (jumping out of the water) and slapping the water with their tail and pectoral fins during their 3,000-mile migration between northern Alaskan waters and breeding grounds of Hawaii,” she said. “These sixty-foot-long mammals can be identified by an obvious hump, a knobby head and long pectoral fins which can reach up to fifteen feet across. Other identifiable features include a white underbelly and white markings under their fins and tail fluke.” MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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