Dead whale found on bow of cruise ship

2016-05-31 12:38
A whale carcass is seen on the bow of the cruise ship at the port in Seward, Alaska. (Matt Faust, AP)

A whale carcass is seen on the bow of the cruise ship at the port in Seward, Alaska. (Matt Faust, AP)

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Anchorage - A veterinary pathologist is investigating the death of a juvenile fin whale discovered on the bow of a cruise ship entering an Alaska port.

The cause of death was not immediately apparent for the endangered whale spotted on Sunday on the bulbous bow of the Zaandam, a Holland America Line cruise ship, as it prepared to dock in Seward.

The carcass was towed to a beach near Seward, said a spokesperson for the fisheries section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Julie Speegle.

Ship strike

The veterinary pathologist, Kathy Burek, has begun a necropsy with armed NOAA Fisheries law enforcement officers standing guard against bears, Speegle said.

The bulbous bow is an extension of the main bow. It rides under the water and is designed to avoid wave-making.

A whale on the bulbous bow may not be the result of a ship strike, Speegle said. It could have been already dead in the water and caught by the device.

"That's something, hopefully, the necropsy will determine," Speegle said.

Fin whales feed on schooling fish and invertebrates by gulping large swarms of them while swimming on their sides, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Fin whales were decimated by commercial whalers in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Dead whale

Last year 10 fin whales were among 18 endangered whales whose carcasses were found floating near Alaska's Kodiak Island between Memorial Day Weekend and early July. The others were humpback whales.

Scientists speculated that the animals might have eaten something toxic in warmer-than-average water. That investigation was hampered because some of the whales had significantly decomposed before they were found.

The dead whale found on the cruise ship will be tested, Speegle said. "We are taking samples for harmful algal blooms," she said.

Read more on:    alaska

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