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Necropsy reveals impaled whale may have been sick


VANCOUVER — The dead fin whale dragged to shore by a cruise ship had no food in its stomach, indicating it may have been sick, preliminary results from a necropsy reveal, said Paul Cottrell, marine mammal coordinator for the department of fisheries and oceans.

The female whale also had a thin layer of blubber, he said. While a thick layer indicates good health, providing a good layer of insulation and indicating the whale has been foraging, a thin layer doesn’t necessarily suggest bad health, Cottrell said, before explaining the thin layer of blubber may merely be a result of nutrients lost when the whale had been producing calves.

But the middle-aged whale wasn’t likely reproducing anymore at this stage in her life, according to the official.

Cottrell said it’s still unclear if the impact if the ship killed the whale or if it had been dead already. The final necropsy report should be completed within a couple of weeks, he said.

The necropsy was performed at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and took about seven hours to complete.

A barge is now towing the whale to “put it back into the marine ecosystem,” Cottrell said.


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