Scientists and onlookers gathered Saturday at a Northern California beach to view a 79-foot-long blue whale — a member of the largest species on Earth — that washed up dead the day before.
The whale, a sub-adult female, was found on Agate Beach in Bolinas along the Marin County Coast, about 10 miles north of San Francisco early Friday morning.
The whale may have been killed in a collision with a ship, said Mary Jane Schramm, a spokeswoman for the Greater Farrallones National Marine Sanctuary in San Francisco.
“We can’t say for certain it was a ship strike,” she said on Saturday. “But there was sign of blunt force injury. All the ribs they examine were broken and that is consistent with a ship strike.”
Researchers from The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and the California Academy of Scienes in San Francisco were conducting an animal autopsy, known as a necropsy, Saturday.
Ship strikes have been a recurring threat to whales around San Francisco Bay and other large ports.
Last October, a 65-foot-long blue whale washed up dead Westmoor Beach in Daly City, about 15 miles south. That whale, a sub-adult male, was found to have died from a skull fracture as a result of a collision with a ship, scientists found.
Less than a month ago, on May 1, the Greater Farrallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries instituted a voluntary policy of asking the operators of large ships to slow their speed to 10 knots — about 11 mph — as they enter the shipping lanes heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
click here to read more.