Dead whale found at Seattle dock struck by ship propeller

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Biologists say dead whale found at Seattle ferry dock was struck by propeller of large vessel.

SEATTLE (AP) — A 32-foot gray whale that turned up dead under the Washington state ferry terminal in downtown Seattle died earlier this week because it was struck by the propeller of a large vessel, according to the initial results of a necropsy completed Saturday.

Transportation officials had wanted to move the carcass away from the ferry terminal before the busy evening rush hour. ‘It’s the smell,’ said Susan Harris, a spokeswoman with Washington State Ferries. ‘More than anything, it’s upsetting for people to see.’ Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would soon move the body again to a more remote pier to perform a necropsy and determine cause of death, she said. The whale’s body, discovered late on Wednesday, was estimated at between 25 and 35 feet (7.6 and 10.6 meters) long and apparently drifted in from open waters, lodging under the busy Colman Dock in Seattle. During the necropsy large and deep gashes on the right side and back of the whale were found that indicated that it died after striking with a propeller. The population is protected under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, and because of their migration pattern along the busy West Coast, gray whales are vulnerable to collisions with boats, entanglement in fishing gear and pollution, Noaa said. Gray whales were removed from the US List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1994 after it was determined their once dwindling population had recovered to near its original size, Noaa said.

The results of the necropsy will be assessed by NOAA Fisheries scientists and will be relayed to NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement for possible investigation.

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