A newborn orca was found washed up on a Dungeness Spit beach Monday morning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The 7.5-foot male calf was found about a day or two after its death, said Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist for NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Hanson rushed to the area this evening with other center staff to lift the whale from the beach in the dark.
Its body has been taken to NOAA’s Western Regional Center in Seattle’s Sand Point for a necrospy and DNA testing to be done on Tuesday. Results of the procedures should indicate whether the calf was a resident or transient orca, but they won’t be ready for another two or three weeks, Hanson said.
“We’ve had residents and transients in the Strait of Juan de Fuca simultaneously recently, so it’s hard to say which it is right now,” Hanson said.
Veterinarian experts will also study whether the whale, which had fetal folds and vibrissae, was born alive. At first glance, Hanson said it had probably been alive for a few days before it died.
The non-profit Orca Network is asking anyone who may have taken photos of orcas in the Puget Sound Sunday to send them in. The non-profit said on its Facebook page that the pictures could help researchers identify where the calf came from. The non-profit can be e-mailed at email@example.com. The information will eventually be shared with NOAA researchers as well.