A deceased humpback whale found near Tenakee Springs last week likely died from a vessel strike, say scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to a NOAA news release, a necropsy was performed after the whale was first reported floating near Tenakee Springs last Thursday morning. It stated that volunteers from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network were able to tow the carcass away from town to a beach that was appropriate for the necropsy.
"This 30-foot long male had marked internal injuries, bruising and hemorrhage indicative of death by high impact, blunt force trauma," said Kate Savage, a NOAA veterinarian who led the necropsy.
The release stated that researchers will try to identify the whale by comparing its tail flute markings to those in photographs in Southeast Alaska whale catalogs.
It also stated that one of the eyes was collected to help determine the whale's age.
According to the release, there are more than 3,000 humpbacks in Southeast Alaska waters where nearly 80 percent of reported collisions occur between whales and vessels. It stated such collisions are "likely to increase in the future, as the North Pacific humpback whale population continues to recover at the same time numbers of vessels in Southeast Alaska are also increasing."
Sightings of whales or other marine mammals in distress can be reported to NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Hotline at (877) 925-7773.
Contact Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.