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Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230
A dead humpback whale was sighted on a beach at Scidmore Cut in the upper West Arm of Glacier Bay on Wednesday May 5th. Marine mammal observer Nat Drumheller, onboard the Park’s first cruise ship of the year, M/V Amsterdam, spotted the whale from a few miles away. His photographs, taken through a spotting scope, confirmed that it was a dead baleen whale. After notifying the National Marine Fisheries Service, Park biologists examined the carcass on Thursday May 6th and determined that it was an adult-sized humpback whale, approximately 41 ft in length, and that it was too decomposed to allow for individual identification via markings on its tail flukes. It is believed to have been dead for several weeks. Tissue samples were obtained for genetic analysis and age determination, but a full necropsy is not planned due to the condition of the carcass.
When the whale bones are exposed in the coming months, they will be examined for signs of a vessel collision, but it will likely be impossible to determine the cause of death of this whale.