(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
There may be a decision today on what will, or won’t, be done with the dead fin whale (an endangered species) that has drawn hundreds to the shore of Burien’s Seahurst Park the past two days. WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams returned to the beach on Sunday and shows us a scene of tributes and mourning as well as curiosity. Among those bringing flowers, 7-year-old Faith Hunter:
There was also the smelly reality of a multi-ton carcass, as Lucas Brooks noticed:
Some simply stood quietly to observe, and pay respects:
Fishing buddies Kyle Thope, right, and Corey Wiggins took a closeup look:
Ruby Rose (photo below) said she was gleaning information from the whale.
She told Nick, “I can receive information through my heart and my hands, and sometimes my third eye. … Whales are living libraries downloading information to me.” Others learned from the scene in a more conventional manner – Steve Knapp was there with his 7-year-old daughter Sera:
What looked like blood might instead have been red paint from whatever ship is suspected to have hit the whale:
That is one of few clues – the “strike” could have happened in Puget Sound, or perhaps hundreds of miles away in the open ocean:
Whatever happened, so many knew only that they might never again get a chance for a look at this type of endangered whale, second-largest in the sea. Some sat in contemplation, like Nastalja, left, and Trina:
Many used phones and/or cameras for a visual souvenir:
The crowd swarmed – many touching the whale, though experts warn against doing so:
Robin Lindsey of West Seattle-headquartered Seal Sitters, whose volunteers came to the scene though it’s south of their jurisdiction, asked us to share these words of warning:
Photos of people touching dead marine mammals is always a tremendous concern. Infectious diseases among marine mammals is on the rise, many of them zoonotic (meaning people and dogs can get them). Blood and fluid oozing from an animal is obviously potentially unsafe! Please, everyone admire and pay tribute to this majestic animal FROM A SAFE DISTANCE. Once again, this stresses the importance of having stranding networks who can respond to such incidents, educating people and keeping them safely away and investigate cause of death. The elimination of Federal funding from the 2014 budget will greatly impair research into emerging disease and studies of human impact on marine mammals. We strongly encourage everyone to please contact their congressional representatives and ask that John H. Prescott Grant funding be restored to the 2014 budget.
That’s explained further in this story Robin had published on the Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog just before the Seahurst stranding happened. Without researchers, so many lessons that might be learned from the loss of this animal might be missed. Its appearance alone bore fascination, such as its baleen:
And the lines that mark it ..
From the Sunday crowd, the tributes kept coming … and the curiosity:
Even other creatures were curious (though dog owners too should heed Robin’s warning, above):
But now there is one big question about this big creature: What will happen to it?
We’re told a decision could come as soon as today; we’ll update when new information is available. Meantime, the experts investigating the whale’s death continue their work, too; here again is the preliminary report that Cascadia Research Collective published Saturday. (Our previous reports are here [Saturday afternoon] and here [Saturday night].)