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2 of 3 wayward orcas found dead in Nushagak River

Posted: October 10, 2011 - 12:00am
In this photo taken Tuesday, barnacles cover the fins of two killer whales swimming in the Nushagak River, south of Ekwok. Three killer whales made an unprecedented trek into a fresh water river in southwest Alaska, a rare move for the saltwater mammals, federal officials said Thursday. However, two of the whales were found dead Saturday, with the whereabouts of the third one unknown. (AP Photo/NOAA, Jon Sharp)  Jon Sharp
Jon Sharp
In this photo taken Tuesday, barnacles cover the fins of two killer whales swimming in the Nushagak River, south of Ekwok. Three killer whales made an unprecedented trek into a fresh water river in southwest Alaska, a rare move for the saltwater mammals, federal officials said Thursday. However, two of the whales were found dead Saturday, with the whereabouts of the third one unknown. (AP Photo/NOAA, Jon Sharp)

ANCHORAGE — Federal biologists have confirmed that two of the three killer whales that swam far up a river in southwestern Alaska have died.

NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the carcasses were spotted during a flight over the Nushagak River on Saturday.

The two dead whales appeared to be adults. A necropsy is planned for early this week. The third, a juvenile, was seen downriver from the carcasses, and biologists were going to assess its health on Sunday in deciding whether to try to force it out to sea.

The whales were first spotted in the river about three weeks ago, and had been in danger of starvation.

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