Helicopter search off West Seattle after state ferry hits whale

Thanks to Byron and Marty for the tips and photos. We’ve confirmed with Washington State Ferries what citywide media first reported: A helicopter search in Elliott Bay followed a ferry apparently striking a whale. A WSF spokesperson tells us it happened just a few minutes after the M/V Wenatchee’s departure from downtown, bound for Bainbridge Island. Passengers saw what they believed was a gray whale surface just a few feet from the bow – too close for the ferry to avoid hitting it. The spokesperson says as far as she knows, no one felt the collision – the witnesses got word to the crew. The ferry continued on to Bainbridge Island; the U.S. Coast Guard searched for the whale, which wasn’t seen again:

(The ferry in this photo is NOT the Wenatchee)

The WSF spokesperson says the USCG thinks it might have spotted something near Pier 66 but darkness has complicated the search. No whales – gray or otherwise – had been reported in the area earlier, so that’s made this a bit of a mystery. WSF has, meantime, also notified NOAA.

14 Replies to "Helicopter search off West Seattle after state ferry hits whale"

  • Howard May 29, 2019 (1:37 am)

    Passengers saw what they believed was a gray whale surface just a few feet from the bow”….Hmmmm I wonder what the bridge crew saw. My money is on no lookout posted. 

    • Paul May 29, 2019 (10:56 am)

      A whale surfaces a few feet in front of a ferry. What good is a lookout going to do in the few seconds before impact? It’s not like the ferry can slam on the brakes and stop in fifty feet.

  • Concerned4whale May 29, 2019 (5:51 am)

    I really hope that whale is going to be okay. How sad. Why isn’t it a requirement that all ferries in operation have whale radar detection equipment. We have so many marine animals in the water that need to be looked out for: whales, those recently seen orcas, sea lions, seals and so on. Where’s the equipment to help ferries see what’s in their route to make appropriate maneuvers? It should be standard.

  • Huck May 29, 2019 (6:50 am)

    Too bad for the whale, but what was the coast guard going to be able to do? Waste of money!

    • WSB May 29, 2019 (10:19 am)

      Not if it happened to, for example, discover the injured animal somewhere else and warn other vessels to stay away. A ferry colliding with a whale isn’t a threat necessarily to the ferry but to a smaller boat …

  • Rick May 29, 2019 (10:35 am)

    The whale’s family should sue the state. Big money in that!

    • T May 29, 2019 (12:14 pm)

      Your joke is in poor taste.

      • Quora May 29, 2019 (1:55 pm)

        I found it hilarious.

        • Gene May 29, 2019 (2:58 pm)

          Yes a living creature as majestic as a whale gets hit & is either suffering or dead- yep hilarious alright.

          • rwsb May 29, 2019 (11:17 pm)

            You just be real fun at parties 🙄

  • David Hutchinson May 29, 2019 (10:54 am)

    Last evening around 8:30 PM, Seal Sitters’ Hotline received reports of this incident. As a member of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, we relayed this information to NOAA and a number of other agencies. It is possible that this whale sank after the collision and the carcass may resurface in local waters at some point in the next few days. If you are out in your boat or notice anything from shore, please contact our Hotline at 206-905-7325, and we will notify the appropriate authorities.David Hutchinson – Seal Sitters

  • rodentraiser May 29, 2019 (1:28 pm)

    I thought the ferries used radar. 

    • Pilsner May 29, 2019 (7:36 pm)

      Well they shoulda been using sonar.

  • Kersti Muul May 29, 2019 (9:56 pm)

    This was a small humpback whale.People on board did indeed feel the impact and saw blood from the blowhole. It is believed a lethal blow.http://www.whalealert.org/

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