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Blue Whale in Oregon: 78-Foot Carcass Washes Up on Coast

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By    |   Monday, 09 Nov 2015 01:19 PM

A blue whale washed ashore in Oregon last week about seven miles north of Gold Beach in Curry County, and the massive carcass could be seen all the way from U.S. Highway 101.

The huge, 78-foot whale had already died when it came ashore Nov. 2, Calum Stevenson, an ocean shore specialist with the Oregon Parks and Recreation, told KATU.com. Bite marks on the remains revealed that it may have been killed by an orca or possibly hit by a large boat.

Bruce Mate, the marine mammal director at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that environment also could have been a factor.

"The last two years there's been what's called a warm water blob developing off California and reaching up to our neck of the woods," Mate said. "And we're bracing for a really strong El Nino this year. All three of those years are going to be really bad for whales that feed on krill."

Students from Hatfield started stripping four-inch-thick strips of blubber from the carcass last week with other volunteers, the first step in getting to the whale skeleton.

The skeleton of the whale will be preserved and put on display at Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute in Newport, The Register-Guard reported.

Stevenson said that marine researchers would have normally buried the carcass but said it is rare for a blue whale to show up this close to the Oregon coast.

The whale was a male and weighed more than 100 tons. Officials told The Register-Guard that the whale appeared to have been dead for two weeks before it washed up on the beach a week ago.

"The blubber layer was emaciated — four inches or less," as opposed to 12 inches in a healthy, living blue whale, Stevenson said. "It wasn't in great shape. It may have been weakened, and then attacked by the predators."

Mate said that it could take two years before the whale's skeleton is ready to be displayed at the museum. He added that the incident marks the first time a blue whale has washed up on an Oregon beach since he started working in the state in 1968.

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A blue whale washed ashore in Oregon last week about seven miles north of Gold Beach in Curry County, and the massive carcass could be seen all the way from U.S. Highway 101.
blue whale, oregon, wash, ashore, carcass
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2015-19-09
Monday, 09 Nov 2015 01:19 PM
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