A baby humpback whale stranded on a West Seattle beach passed away Sunday morning despite rescue efforts to save it.
The juvenile humpback, measuring about 30 feet long, was found Sunday morning, stranded in the shallows near the Fauntleroy Ferry dock in West Seattle.
Hundreds of people thronged the ferry terminal to catch a glimpse of the whale, Tech Times reports. Unfortunately, the humpback died just a few hours after discovery, according to a spokesperson from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Lynne Barre of NOAA’s Protected Resources Division says the baby humpback was reported at 8:00 a.m. during high tide. Rescuers from groups such as the NOAA, the Cascadia Research Collective, the West Seattle Seal Sitters and other organizations hurried to the shore to save the whale and keep the growing crowd of onlookers at bay.
Jessie Huggins, stranding coordinator for Cascadia, along with members of the rescue party, waded into the waist-deep waters to cover the whale with wet blankets. This was to regulate its temperature and keep it hydrated.
As the tide ebbed, Huggins says the sick animal slowly began dying.
Experts have yet to determine the definite cause of death, and tissue samples taken from the humpback should help. The animal’s body was covered in “whale lice,” a symptom of poor health.
Huggins says officials are not likely to tow the whale to another place for a necropsy, and that they might decide that the tissue samples are enough for an investigation.
Barre says humpback whales are a common sight in Puget Sound, as their population has increased in recent years. Still, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service recommends that some specific whale types in the Northwest Pacific be classified as threatened species. Barre adds that despite frequent sightings, it is still rare to find live whales stranded on the shore.
Just this June, a 35-foot-long humpback was found dead in Bremerton ferry. A full necropsy could not identify cause of death.
Humpback whales continue to turn up in other states. Last November, marine authorities tried to free a humpback caught in a commercial fishing line.