Killer whale dorsal fin found at Twin Harbors State Park 22 May 2007
Prepared by Robin Baird, Cascadia Research, 218½ W 4th Ave., Olympia, WA 98501
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A dorsal fin and part of the back of a killer whale cleanly cut off was found by park rangers at the Twin Harbors State Park, south of Westport, WA, on Tuesday May 22, 2007. Annie Douglas and Sara McClelland from Cascadia Research picked up the remains Tuesday and transported them to Olympia, where Brad Hanson of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center of NOAA Fisheries picked them up for examination in Seattle. Based on the state of decomposition the whale had probably been dead for less than five days. The fin appeared to be of an adult female or sub-adult male (61 cm high), and was attached to a portion of the back that had been cleanly cut off by a knife (based on the nature of the cuts). The saddle patch was partially visible, and based on how far forward the patch extends appears to be a mammal-eating ("transient") killer whale. There is one small notch in the fin which can be used to identify the individual, and the whale had a fairly deep and fresh set of tooth rakes, from another killer whale, on both sides of the dorsal fin. Graeme Ellis from Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified the whale as T086, an adult female that has been known since 1984, a member of the "West Coast Transient" community of mammal-eating killer whales, that range from central California north to southeast Alaska. NWFSC will be running genetics, stable isotopes and pollutant analyses on the samples obtained. Jessie Huggins from Cascadia will be driving the beaches north of Westport May 23, 2007, looking for stranded animals, so hopefully may find the rest of the remains of this individual. If anyone is driving, walking or flying over west coast beaches in the next couple of days they should be on the lookout for other body parts, to help explain this mystery.
More 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 web sites.