Endangered Fin Whale Washes up on West Marin Beach

Fin Whale Endangered

A federally endangered fin whale washed up onto West Marin Beach in California located in the North San Francisco Bay Area. The fin whale was struck by a boat and injured it’s spine, ribs and other skeletal elements and tissues, killing it.

Dr. Frances Gulland, senior scientist at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands said, “This is another dramatic example of negative human impact on marine mammals. The spine of this whale was completely fractured as a result of a ship strike and it is very sad that this animal’s life came to an end in this manner.”

The 47-foot fin whale was spotted on Thursday in the south area of Wildcat Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore, but due to high surf, biologists were unable to identify the whale. The U.S. Coast Guard said it is unknown if this was the same whale that was hit by the boat.

Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement, “We recognize that large vessels can’t maneuver on a dime, stop on dime, turn on dime — even if they see a whale in front of them — and that whales do not necessarily know to take evasive action. We just want boaters to be on the lookout. Even a small vessel striking a whale can have an impact.”

Biologists have taken tissue samples from the fin whale to study, but have no plans in salvaging the bones. They plan to let the tide take the whale back out to sea.

“We will let nature take its course,” said John Dell’Osso, spokesman for the seashore.

Fin whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists say the population between Washington and California is estimated to be around 2,000 fin whales, but they are also divided into several populations around the world.

Fin whales are the second-largest mammal on Earth, behind the blue whale. Females average 61 feet and males are slightly smaller at an average 59 feet, but can get up to lengths of nearly 90 feet.

Fin Whale Towed to Fiesta Island San Diego From Pt Loma Cove November 23, 2011

This whale originally washed up in a cove near the San Diego Wastewater Treatment Plant on Point Loma and was then towed to Fiesta Island so the cause of death could be determined after a necropsy (animal autopsy) that shortly took place after this video. This fin whale was killed by a large ship–probably either a container ship or a cruise ship–as she was resting or breathing at the surface.

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