Whale discovered on cruise ship is adult, not juvenile humpback

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2010

JUNEAU - Tests conducted Thursday on a whale found Wednesday on the bow of a Juneau-bound cruise ship confirm the whale was a humpback, but was an adult instead of a juvenile, according to a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The whale was larger than we originally thought," said Aleria Jensen, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Mammal Stranding Coordinator, in the release. "It measured 43 feet long, indicating a fully grown female." An adult female humpback generally measures between 35 and 45 feet in length.

A full necropsy on the whale will be performed today, NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle said in an e-mail.

The discovery of the whale on the bulbous bow of the Sapphire Princess delayed the ship's arrival into Juneau Wednesday by more than 90 minutes.

NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident, and has interviewed the captain of the Sapphire Princess, the release stated.

Humpback whales are protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection act and the Endangered Species Act, and that protection extends to prohibit anyone from disturbing or removing pieces of the whale's carcass, the release states.

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