Newborn Whale Washes Up Near N. Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – It's a first for the Seaside Aquarium, which has been involved in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network for 16 years. It's been eight years since a Killer whale washed up on this part of the coast, but it's the first time a newborn Orca has appeared. (Whale photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium)
The baby whale showed up on Monday at Seaview, Washington – deceased. Initially, responders – including staff from Seaside Aquarium – thought the calf had likely died during birth. Later examinations have led them to believe it was a hiatal hernia.
“The small female whale, measuring just less than eight feet, was recovered by Fish and Wildlife officer Brett Hopkins,” Boothe said. “Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler met Brett in Ilwalco where they transferred the whale. Keith was then able to get the whale to marine mammal expert Dalin D'Alessandro who took the whale back with her to Portland State University.”
Scientists from the Marine Mammal Network in Portland are now conducting a necropsy.
“This is a very valuable specimen,” Boothe said. “Killer whales are one of the most studied marine mammals and information obtained by such a rare find can be quite valuable.”
Boothe said there are no resident pods of Orcas along this part of the Oregon and Washington coast, so their corpses rarely wash up.
Scientists are hoping to find out a variety of things through the necropsy beyond its exact cause of death. They are looking for what type of regional ecological group the whale belonged to – called an ecotype. There are three different ecotypes of Killer whales: residents, transients and offshore.
“Each of these ecotypes has distinctive genetics, calls, social structure, ecological roles and local ranges,” Boothe said.
Newborn Killer whales are generally around eight feet long and weigh about 400 pounds. Killer whales are pregnant for 15 months, nursing one calf for about two years. They will give birth perhaps every five years, yielding around five births in their lifetime.
Female Killer whales live into their 70's, sometimes even their 90's, while males usually only live about 30 years.
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