Dead gray whale towed to NAS Whidbey for examination
Source: Justin Burnett, Whidbey News-Times
A dead gray whale that was found floating in Saratoga Passage Sunday was necropsied on a beach on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station today.
According to Susan Berta, co-founder of the Orca Network, the whale was spotted by citizens in the early morning hours just north of Camano Island State Park. The whale remained in the same position for most of the day and was towed that evening to a beach off Polnell Point by Deception Pass Tours in Oak Harbor.
Several groups, including Cascadia Research, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammals Stranding Network spent most of Monday necropsying the whale.
At 37 feet long, it has been identified as a male aged six to seven years old and weighing in at about 30 tons. At the time of the necropsy, the whale's identity and where it hails from were unknown.
Researchers were also unable to say how the animal died as there were no visible indications of trauma or health problems.
Matt Klope, a volunteer with the standing network and biologist who does work for the Navy, said determining how the animal died is one of the main goals of the necropsy.
"Basically, it's to look for a cause of death," Klope said.
But samples of the whale's skin and blubber, organs and blood will also be taken. Researchers will look for signs of disease and try to determine the general health of the animal before it died.
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UPDATE: Click here to read a more recent article on the necropsy of this gray whale.