On Monday, the Oregon coast saw to a beached rare blue whale washing upon its shore, an unfortunate sighting of a rarely-seen animal.
- The blue whale was found on Monday, November 2nd near Gold Beach
- It was almost 80 feet in length, and weighed around 20 tons
- The body presented bites from either sharks or orcas
- The state will be preserving its bones and placing them up for display in Newport
The marine mammal washed upon the shores of southern Oregon, around Gold Beach, and brought with it numerous questions and visitors. Blue whales are a rare sight, and it brought the attention of both the state department and museum. The specimen is 78 feet in length, standing at 20 tons in weight. It’s a tragic sight of a beautiful animal.
This has prompted crowds of people to gather around it, snapping pictures or just marveling at the sight. It included preschoolers and multiple others to view the unfortunate yet very rare event. For Bruce Mate, from the OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, it’s the first time he’d ever seen a blue whale on the Oregon beach, since he started in 1968.
Upon examinations, officials from the state department found signs of bites across its body. These were suggested to have come from an orca or shark, though there might’ve been traces that the specimen had also being hit by a boat at one point. Regardless, it seemed apparent that the marine mammal was dead by the time it washed ashore.
According to Mate though, the environment might’ve had a role to play as well. Given that the waters have seen increasing temperatures, and that El Nino is expected to have even harsher effects, this may not be an isolated case. The blue whale had died at sea after all, like most do.
These beachings often occur when the marine mammals are too sick or too weak. They no longer have the energy to keep themselves afloat, and surrender themselves to the waves. It rare cases, even large groups can be washed ashore. Biologist believe that this is due the fact that one dominant member runs to the coast while its sick or hurt, and the rest follow.
The blue whale on the Oregon beach, however, was alone. And reports have it that it had been dead for several years. Only that, in this instance, it didn’t sink to the bottom, never to be seen again. Instead, it offered an opportunity for locals and scientists.
Students from OSU and other volunteers will proceed to remove the 4-inch thick “very sick blubber layer”. According to an ocean shore specialist, Calum Stevenson, they will take it off from the carcass, a difficult task which will continue through the weekend. Due to the exceptional rarity of blue whales, they will not bury it.
Instead, the state parks department will be preserving its skeleton and place it up for display at Marine Center in Newport. However, this will not happen for several years, until the bones will be ready for exhibition.
Image source: kval.com