SHELTON, Wash. -- Scientists who examined a young whale that washed up dead on a south Puget Sound beach say the most gruesome injury visible when it was alive likely caused its death.
John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research says that back injury was not only deep but had sheared off the top part of at least two vertebrae. And he says a necropsy conducted Monday indicates the whale sustained the injury "many weeks or months previously."
In all, the fairly thin, immature male Bryde's whale had suffered at least five significant injuries. Scientists say it's likely all were caused by one or more collisions with vessels. Washington state and National Marine Fisheries Service scientists participated in the examination.
The badly injured 34 1/2-foot whale was first spotted in November, missing large chunks of flesh and blubber.
The Bryde's whale is a primarily tropical species that rarely shows up in Puget Sound.