Blue whale washes ashore in Northern California

By | October 22, 2009

Blue whale washes ashore in Northern California

A 70-foot, female blue whale that officials believe was struck by a ship has washed ashore on the Northern California coast in what scientists are calling a rare occurrence.

The whale was first spotted on shore near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County on Monday night, hours after an ocean survey vessel reported hitting a whale a few miles away, said Joe Cordaro, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine fisheries service.

Blue whales are the world’s largest mammals.

Students from California State University, Humboldt, examined the whale’s massive body Tuesday as it lay on its side in a rocky cove.

“I was personally jazzed just to see the animal,” said Thor Holmes, a lecturer in mammology at the school. He has examined other whale species that washed ashore but never a blue whale.

The whale had two gashes on its back — at least one of which was deep enough to cut through the blubber down to the vertebral column, Holmes said. It otherwise appeared to be in good health.

It’s unusual for blue whales to wash ashore, Cordaro said. Last week, another blue whale washed up in Monterey County after being hit by a ship.

Before that, the last time a blue whale washed onto a California beach was 2007.

The whales are “usually far offshore, deep water animals,” Cordaro said.

Although blue whales are considered endangered, experts say they have recently made a comeback and now number several thousand.

Some blue whales feed in the waters off Central and Northern California this time of year then migrate elsewhere to breed, said Dawn Goley, an associate professor of zoology at the Humboldt campus.

Researchers have taken skin and blubber samples from the beached animal to see what contaminants it may have been exposed to and what population group it comes from.

via Blue whale washes ashore in Northern California – Yahoo! News.

5 thoughts on “Blue whale washes ashore in Northern California

  1. Tom

    The whale was first spotted on shore near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. CLUE: Fort Bragg is in South Carolina, not California! Moron journalists!

    1. Xeno Post author

      Tom, I was just telling Cole the other day that people fight very often due to misunderstandings because different things have the same name. This is a much bigger problem that most of us realize. Many things we say are taken the wrong way by people because our language is flexible.

      Neither person in misunderstandings is usually a moron. Most often each person just has had different life experiences which leads them to interpret the words differently. Our language rules allow several people on the planet to be named “Tom”, for example, and more than one city to be named “Fort Bragg“.

      There is Fort Bragg, CA in Mendocino County and Fort Bragg, NC in Cumberland County, which is why the article said Mendocino County… although I have to admit, it would be a much bigger story if a blue whale washed up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina… you know, due to Fort Bragg, NC’s being about 100 miles from the nearest ocean.

      1. Steve

        Well said. Having spent a lot of time in Ft. Bragg, California on vacation, I was glad to have Xeno’s clarification of Tom’s. For a moment, I was worried that I had been spending my vacations in North Carolina and not realizing where I was.

  2. Jay Murray

    Greetings. It’s interesting that the only comments don’t relate to the issue of dead Blue Whales. I am a 57 year old male PADI Divemaster. As a SCUBA diver who has been exposed to high power naval sonar in the 1990’s, and someone who has been asked by the Dept of the Interiors Minerals Managment service to represent the dive industry regarding the issue of high power sound transmissions in our oceans, I would submit these whales were more than likely exposed to some form of extremely loud manmade sounds, either military search sonar or oil and gas exploration using 235 – 250dB airgun technology. The whales ears were probably destroyed by the sound waves which left them without a way to hear oncoming vessels. That scenario, with the whales unable to hear the vessels is the only plausible way this could happen. In my humble opinion of course. Because the Blue Whale that washed ashore near Fort Bragg, CA was first spotted by a “survey vessel”, this incident should be investigated too see if the NOAA vessel was using sound transmission devices to survey the ocean floor or even deeper, to look for oil and gas deposits well beneath the ocean floor, and if the vessel was near Monterey County waters prior too the Blue Whale washing up there.
    Thanks, Jay

    1. Xeno

      Thanks Jay. The death of this awesome creature is very sad and you make an interesting case. I saw some live whales when I was in Maui a few years ago and it was a very moving experience… breathtaking. If there is something specific we can do to stop this type of destruction, please let us know. I don’t know what would be most effective.

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