A blue whale found Monday on a beach at Point Reyes National Seashore died of blunt force trauma consistent with being hit by a ship, scientists with The Marine Mammal Center said Wednesday.
The finding was made after scientists Wednesday morning performed a necropsy, an animal autopsy, on the aquatic mammal a few miles south of Limantour Beach. The 62 feet-long whale was a juvenile female.
The Marinne Mammal Center reported five whales have washed ashore in the Bay Area since early last month. Four out of the five were likely struck by ships.
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"They had similar injures they have muscle hemorrhage bone fractures bone breaks sometimes fractured skulls," said Barbie Halaska from the Marine Mammal Center. "Blue whales are extremely highly endangered."
Shawn Johnson, the Center's Director for Veteranary Science said whales are migrant and there are more ships, an issue that has brought changes.
"Giving the ships more options, more shipping lanes to come in to the San Francisco Bay. There are also recommendations to voluntarily slow down as they get closer," he said.
Johnson said there's been an overall reduction in strikes but as researchers, they continue to look for innovative ways to prevent ship strikes.
"Blue whales are the largest animal on earth and an endangered species, so to learn that this individual's death is a result of a ship strike is particularly unfortunate," Halaska said.