The carcass of a gray whale spotted floating over the weekend near Wrangell has been located.
The discovery is important as it will allow federal scientists to study it before decomposition sets in. Martin Hutten, a forest service biologist in Wrangell’s Ranger District, says a necropsy could happen as soon as Thursday.
“They’re particularly excited about this whale because it’s in really good shape still so it must have died fairly recently,” Hutten said. “It doesn’t emit a whole lot of smell just yet. So they’re excited to get a lot of good data off of this.”
NOAA Fisheries had asked volunteers and partner agencies to be on the lookout for the dead whale first spotted by a fisherman in Wrangell’s Eastern Passage. By Tuesday, U.S. Forest Service personnel had secured it on a beach by tying its tail and fin to trees.
More than 150 dead gray whales have been logged on the West Coast from Mexico to Alaska this year. NOAA has declared an “unusual mortality event” and is investigating possible causes.
This discovery marks the eighth confirmed dead gray whale in Alaska waters.