Baby Humpback Whale washes ashore near Westport, cause of death likely natural

A dead baby humpback whale was found washed ashore near Westport Saturday, Cascadia Research Collective, along with staff from WDFW and Westport Aquarium, conducted an examination on Sunday. The 25′ 8″ female was estimated to be just over a year old, and was found about a mile north of West Haven State Park. The blubber was thin with little oil, but the whale had been recently feeding on small fish. While a precise cause of death is undetermined, it appears to have been natural based on the necropsy. Numerous samples were collected for a variety of analyses, including genetics, contaminants, and general pathology; these may provide more details about what happened to this whale. Humpback whale populations have been increasing throughout their range, and strandings, which used to be relatively infrequent, are becoming more common along the Washington coast.

 

Cascadia Research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Westport Aquarium conducted an examination today…

Posted by Cascadia Research Collective on Sunday, April 12, 2015

Humpback whale washes ashore on Grayland beach

A 30 foot humpback whale washed ashore in Grayland over the weekend. Kathryn Myrsell with the Westport Aquarium tells us it appears to have been dead for at least a week, and had lacerations on it’s tail. The way is washed ashore Sunday prevents them from telling if it’s male or female. Teams from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with Cascadia Research, performed a necropsy on the whale Monday morning.

Here is a photo of Kayla Bosarge and and intern from Fish and wildlife or Cascadia Research. Kayla Bosarge who graduated from Aberdeen, High School this June and who will be going to Oregon State College next year to study Marine Biology  Kayle got to help with the necropsy on a 30 foot humpback whale, Monday August 18th at about 11 am. This was Kayla's first whale necropsy.  The whale had been dead for probably about a week and just washed ashore in Grayland Sunday August 19th.
Here is a photo of Kayla Bosarge and and intern from Fish and wildlife or Cascadia Research. Kayla Bosarge who graduated from Aberdeen, High School this June and who will be going to Oregon State College next year to study Marine Biology
Kayle got to help with the necropsy on a 30 foot humpback whale, Monday August 18th at about 11 am. This was Kayla’s first whale necropsy. The whale had been dead for probably about a week and just washed ashore in Grayland Sunday August 19th.

Humpback whale freed from fishing gear near Grays Harbor

Three marine mammal researchers freed a young humpback whale tangled in crab pot gear off the entrance to Grays Harbor.
Tuesday’s rescue off Westport Harbor took nearly three hours, with a Coast Guard crew in a 47-foot boat assisting the trio from the nonprofit Cascadia Research of Olympia in their 20-foot boat.
John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research described the whale as very approachable and says it seemed to initiate close contact with the inflatable boat.
The Olympian reported that the crab line and floats were wrapped around the whale’s flukes, but the Cascadia crew was able to cut the line attached to the crab gear and set the whale free. The newspaper says markings on the float indicated it was a crab pot from Oregon.
Once freed, the whale swam away quickly.

On 6 May 2014 Cascadia personnel assisted by the Coast Guard and with NMFS support successfully disentangled a humpback whale that was almost completely immobilized by entanglement in crab pot gear off Washington. That morning, the Grays Harbor Coast Guard received word from the commercial crab boat Pacific Girl that they were with a whale entangled in crab gear off the entrance to Grays Harbor at 46 56.6 N and 124 17.0 W. A number of factors not typically present in entanglements of Washington made this an opportune case to respond to: 1) the report was in the morning with still time to respond, 2) there was a good position and the reporting party was not only still on site but was willing to stay in the area for several more hours to keep track of the whale, 3) the whale was fairly close to shore, just over 7 nmi from Westport Harbor, 4) weather conditions, while not perfect, were acceptable. A Cascadia team consisting of John Calambokidis, Jeff Foster, and Erin Stehr (intern at Cascadia) launched from Westport at a little after 1200 aboard Cascadia’s 5.9m (20′) RHIB Ziphid. Grays Harbor Coast Guard agreed to provide safety support and logistics assistance with one of their 47′ motor lifeboats. With the help of the reporting party, the whale was relocated at 1330 at 46 58.22N and 124 18.34W just over a nmi of the original location. We estimated the humpback whale to be about 35-40 feet long (perhaps 3-5 years old), with crab gear around the tailstock and flukes. The floats had algae growth on them indicating they had likely been on the whale for some time. The whale was surfacing almost vertically and was making very little lateral progress. Water visibility was very poor and combined with this body posture made seeing or acting on the entanglement very difficult. The whale was very approachable and allowed and possibly even initiated very close proximity to the boat.

A little after 1600 the whale’s behavior changed and it seemed more active and mobile. While it was still entangled, we suspect the original crab gear it was entangled in had hooked some additional gear that was constraining the earlier movements of the whale and perhaps were no longer attached. While this made it harder to stay with the whale it did show its back more regularly and when it would do so the some of the entangled rope and floats were also more visible near the peduncle and flukes. The trailing floats were extended a few meters from the flukes but we were able to successfully grapple these with a thrown grappling hook. Through a combination of boat maneuvering, using the line as a guide, and tension put on the grapple line we were then able to stay closely following the whale and get increasingly better looks at the nature of the entanglement and gear. The float line went over the left fluke, around and beneath the caudal peduncle and then back over the right fluke before extending downward to the crab pot (not visible). At about 1715 we were able to get into position where the line extending down to the crab gear was visible and were able to hook that line with our pole and apply a flying cutting head. The whale accelerated at that point, putting tension on the line (which we held by hand in the boat) and after about 30 seconds the cutting head cut through the line going down to the crab gear. When we put tension on the line we had grappled near the floats, we were able to unwrap and pull it completely free of the whale, and retrieve the gear. Identification markings on the float indicated it was a crab pot from Oregon. The whale swam rapidly away and was not resighted.