Update: Dead gray whale towed from Arroyo Beach

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ORIGINAL 9:02 AM REPORT: We are back out at Arroyo Beach this morning – again, this is private waterfront, and we appreciate the permission to be on one particular home’s bulkhead – where researchers are about to try moving the gray whale that beached and died here Wednesday afternoon. West Seattle-based researcher Mark Sears has been anchored in his powerboat next to the whale – that’s him in the clip above, with a local stand-up paddler who came up for a look a little while ago. A much bigger white boat has just arrived; here’s a photo:

We’ll add updates as this progresses. One other note – according to Robin Lindsey‘s update on the Seal Sitters site (she works closely and frequently with NOAA), it’s now believed this whale (which was fully out of the water on Thursday) is male, not female.

10:20 AM UPDATE: Now back at HQ. The towboat was almost out of sight, heading south, with the whale still in tow, after a stop several hundred yards offshore to readjust the line. With a multiton whale along for the ride, of course, it’s pretty slow-going, and we probably won’t get final word of arrival for some hours to come. 11:04 AM: Adding our video as the tow started to take on a steady pace – the dark bump in the water is the only part of the whale visible during the whole process:

Any updates we get later, we’ll add. Meantime, a big thank you to beach residents Scott and Jen for allowing us to hang out on their bulkhead this morning to report on the last chapter of the whale story (and providing beach umbrellas when the rain moved in!). As per an old newspaper story we linked in an earlier report, this was the first gray beached in West Seattle since 1999. NOAA has said that after the whale is necropsied at a state-owned beach they haven’t publicly identified, it will be left to decompose. Highline Community College‘s Marine Science and Technology Center at Redondo Beach will get the bones; its director Dr. Kaddee Lawrence tells WSB, “We will be slowly gathering the bones as the carcass decays and they will be on display (eventually as a re-articulated skeleton) at our marine center.” 7:22 PM UPDATE: Robin Lindsey tells WSB she just got word the whale-moving operation was a success, and it has arrived at the undisclosed necropsy location, where the examination is scheduled for tomorrow.

3 Replies to "Update: Dead gray whale towed from Arroyo Beach"

  • herongrrrl April 17, 2010 (12:19 pm)

    Orca Network just posted this on Facebook about the recent Gray Whale deaths here: http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/Gray%20Whale%20Deaths-April%202010.htm

    • WSB April 17, 2010 (3:02 pm)

      Thanks, Herongrrrl – I will call that out separately at some point here – sad to see it sounds like the whale we all watched a few weeks ago is among those who died, but as I wrote along the way somewhere that day (maybe on Twitter), I’ve seen grays in action from San Diego to BC and that one seemed kind of sluggish, obviously desperately seeking food as it roamed around the peninsula. Thanks again for the link, I may not have caught it for some hours – TR

  • Paul Bannon April 17, 2010 (1:35 pm)

    I wish I could have brought my kids to see and touch it. My five year old daughter was asking what the baleen were, or why it’s teeth looked like that.

    Paul B.

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