North Oregon Coast Crew Responds to Beached Orca in Washington
(Seaside, Oregon) – A crew from the Seaside Aquarium responded to a beached Killer Whale on the Washington coast Saturday, after the deceased creature showed up on the Long Beach peninsula, just north of the Cranberry approach. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium, which is six miles from Cannon Beach).
Seaside Aquarium – which is part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network – helped move the animal and made sure it stayed intact for an necropsy performed Sunday by the Network's head scientist, Dr. Debbie Duffield from Portland State University. Also assisting were a group of biologists from Cascadia Research.
The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said the Orca was a female, about 12 feet long.
“Obvious external signs of decomposition confirmed that the animal had been dead for a while before washing ashore,” Boothe said. “The exact age of the whale has yet to be determined but the size indicates that the animal was no more than six years old and maybe as young as three.”
Boothe said there were still signs of it having been a young calf. Special adaptations that such young whales have for nursing were still present on its tongue.
While conducting the necropsy a lot of hemorrhaging was found, indicating some sort of major trauma.
Scientists from the Network think it's likely the whale was part of the L pod, which along with a handful of other pods are residents of the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast. Further DNA testing will be done on the female to confirm this, however.
The whale's skeleton will be taken back to Portland, along with some other organs, for further study. The rest of the soft tissue will be buried on the beach.
Boothe said it was the second Orca to wash up in the Long Beach area in three months. The first came aground in November. That whale was eight feet long and was only a few days to a few weeks old. It died of a hiatal hernia and DNA testing confirmed that it was a transient Orca – which wander up and down the west coast and are often seen in great numbers along the Oregon coast in April.
The two Orca deaths are unrelated, Boothe said.
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