The carcass of a young female fin whale found in a shipping channel near the Port of Long Beach was to be towed out to sea Saturday without a necropsy to confirm the reason for her death.
The Port of Long Beach hired a company to tow the carcass out to sea, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Michael Milstein.
NOAA scientists worked through Saturday to try to locate a place to conduct a necropsy but were unable to find one, Milstein told City News Service.
“We didn’t get as much information as we would have liked to,” he said. “A ship strike is a real possibility but we will not know definitively.”
The whale had some abrasions on it, prompting a researcher to suggest it may have been struck by a large ship and dragged into the channel.
The whale was discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard around 6 p.m. Wednesday near Nimitz Road and Pier T and was tied to the pier so it could be examined by scientists. She was believed to have recently finished nursing and set out on her own, Milstein said.
It is uncommon to find a whale in a busy port area, he said. But the discovery of the whale is evidence of “a pretty strong and growing population of fin whales off the coast of Southern California.”
Fin whales are endangered species but a conservation success because their numbers are growing. While some migrate as far south as Baja and as far north as Monterey, a large number of fin whales are now found off Southern California, Milstein said.
Fin whales — the biggest after blue whales — have been spotted near the port in the last few weeks and whale watch boats have reported seeing them feeding on abundant bait fish, he said.
—City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: