(Photos by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
A sad procession on Alki less than an hour ago – but one that might ultimately yield some knowledge for the future: A dead harbor porpoise was taken away by biologist Dyanna Lambourn from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations unit and biologist/stranding coordinator Jessie Huggins from Cascadia Research Collective. Also on hand at the beach this morning, Seal Sitters first responder Robin Lindsey, who got word of the porpoise’s death at mid-afternoon Saturday (the organization is part of a stranding network for all marine mammals, not just seals), and Seal Sitters volunteers David and Eilene Hutchinson. So far we know the porpoise was an adult female, but the cause of her death was not obvious and will require further investigation.
As the biologists (in the photo with camera-wielding Robin) explained to curious passersby, harbor porpoises are not rare and not endangered (read more about them here), but the biologists say they seldom wash up like this – most often, they die at sea and “just disappear.” On the Seal Sitters’ “blubberblog” site, Robin tells the story of the elaborate operation carried out last night to secure the porpoise until it could be picked up this morning; as she writes, it died further east along the Alki shore, and was moved to the spot where we photographed her and the biologists this morning (near the 53rd Avenue Pump Station section of beach). The porpoise is now being taken to a facility in the South Sound.
3:47 PM UPDATE: Robin has updated her report, but the necropsy results aren’t in yet – look for another update (there and here) when they are.
11:03 PM UPDATE: Robin at Seal Sitters has updated her report again with those results. Biologists say the porpoise had a serious lung infection. Full details added at the bottom of her story.