of dead killer whale on Long Beach Peninsula, February 12, 2012
by Jessie Huggins (Cascadia Research), Deb Duffield (Portland State University)
Dyanna Lambourn (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
A detailed external and internal
examination was conducted on February 12, 2012 of a stranded killer whale that
washed up just north of Long Beach, Washington on the morning of February 11.
The 12’3” (3.75m) juvenile female was taken to a secure location for a full
necropsy by biologists and volunteers from a number of organizations that are
part of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, including Portland State
University, Cascadia Research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine
Mammal Investigations, Seaside Aquarium, Seattle Seal Sitters, the Makah Tribe,
and NOAA Fisheries.
Photographs of the dorsal fin and
saddle patch were matched to catalogs of known killer whales by biologists from
National Marine Fisheries Service and the Center for Whale Research. She has
been identified as L112, a member of the Southern Resident L Pod. Born in 2009,
she was the second surviving calf of L86.
The whale was moderately decomposed
and in good overall body condition. Internal exam revealed significant trauma
around the head, chest and right side; at this point the cause of these injuries
is unknown. The skeleton will be
cleaned and closely evaluated by Portland State University for signs of fracture
and the head has been retained intact for biological scanning. Additionally,
samples were taken for a variety of analyses: genetics, contaminants,
bacteriology, virology, food habits, biotoxins and histopathology. The
processing of these tissue samples could take several weeks or months and will
hopefully provide insight into the origin of the traumatic injuries or other
factors that may have contributed to the death of this whale.
There have been reports of Naval sonar activity in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the past week and a half and members of K and L pod were reportedly in the area at the time as well. We do not know if this whale was among those in the area but the possibility is under consideration.
is the second killer whale to strand on the Long Beach peninsula in the past
three months. The first case was a killer whale calf that stranded north of the
Seaview Beach approach on November 14, 2011. The carcass was promptly collected
and transported to Portland State University, where thorough necropsy was
conducted by Portland State University, Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations, Cascadia Research, NOAA, and Dr. Stephen
Raverty. A genetics sample was taken and the female calf has been confirmed as
part of the eastern North Pacific offshore ecotype and not part of the resident
population. A congenital defect was determined to be the
cause of death in this case.
More information on other strandings can be found at Cascadia's stranding response page.
information on killer whales can be found on the Cascadia
Research killer whale page, at the Center
for Whale Research, Fisheries
and Oceans Canada, and the Northwest
Fisheries Science Center websites.
Whale at site for examination, prior to start. Photo by Cascadia Research
Necropsy team including personnel from Portland State University, Seaside Aquarium, Cascadia Research, Seattle Seal Sitters, and WDFW. Photo by Dyanna Lambourn, WDFW.