(scroll down for the latest photo/info/video)
We’re back on Arroyo Beach in far south West Seattle right now, along with TV crews, watchful neighbors, and whale experts (plus one news chopper overhead). Jeff Hogan tells us that the gray that beached and died here yesterday afternoon is a female, about 30 feet long, “sub-adult,” and emaciated. NOAA has reps here too and will try at high tide to tow it away so it can be necropsied elsewhere, but if that’s not possible, they may have to do a “limited necropsy” here. NOAA tells us the number of gray whale deaths hasn’t risen to an alarming level yet; this one may be the first found dead in West Seattle waters since 1999 (here’s an article we found about what was happening that year). Here’s a wider view of what’s happening here, looking toward Vashon from our spot beneath a residential bulkhead:
The tide is still receding, with low tide at noon, so nothing’s going to change here for some hours. The whale is cordoned off with a yellow-tape perimeter. We did a video walkaround before that tape went all the way up and will add that shortly. We asked Hogan if there is any way to tell if this (or any of the others that died recently) is the one that West Seattleites watched a few weeks ago – he said photographs would have to be used to make the comparison. 11:32 AM: An impromptu field trip from Westside School just dropped by and drew immediate TV attention:
The rain is falling more steadily now. Again, nothing major is expected to happen here until the tide’s in later – high tide isn’t until 7:15 this evening. ADDED 1:44 PM: Finally able to upload the video walkaround we mentioned earlier:
Here are our previous stories:
–First report from the beach, shortly after the whale died
–Nighttime look after the tide went out
Perhaps the most amazing sight is the whale’s baleen (what’s in their jaws to filter food out of muddy shallows) – a photo shared with us by “D” has a clearer look – click ahead (ALSO AHEAD, LATEST UPDATES):
3:13 PM: Nearby resident Scott, whose wife rolled video on what turned out to be the whale’s final moments of life yesterday afternoon, says NOAA is indeed planning to be back out in a few hours to try to float the whale off the beach at high tide (7 pm).
7:10 PM: Here’s all you could see at the scene a short time ago as high tide approached:
We’ve posted a new report with an update.