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PHOTOS: Body of Fin Whale Washes Up at Seahurst Park Beach Saturday

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Photo of the fin whale as it drifts into shore Saturday morning, courtesy John White.

Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer [2]

Saturday morning around 10 a.m., the body of a fin whale – perhaps as long as 70 feet – washed up on the beach at Seahurst Park in Burien.

The deceased animal’s body ended up about 100 yards south of the Environmental Science Center, where it was being examined by biologists, who were taking tissue samples around 2 p.m.

The cause of death remains unknown at this time, although it did appear that part of the creature’s body was missing. It is also unknown how or when the corpse will be removed from the beach, but we just hope nobody plans on blowing it up [3].

The public can see the whale from the beach, and if you plan on going (highly recommended!) may we suggest parking in the upper lot and walking down as crowds were starting to gather. Be careful of tides and waves though, and it’s advised not to climb on the body.

According to the city’s website [4]:

It is an adult fin whale, normally up to 70 ft in length, however approximately half of it is missing. Investigators believe that it was most likely hit by a cargo ship and killed; no necropsy is planned.

As a marine mammal, it is under the federal jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The agency is working with its partners that they normally work with in such cases, both to evaluate and discuss potential disposition of the animal.

There are no public health concerns at the present time, however the public is encouraged not to tamper with or approach the carcass. The NMFS will post official updates via their partner, Cascadia Research [5].

According to NOAA:

Fin whales are the second-largest species of whale, with a maximum length of about 75 ft (22 m) in the Northern Hemisphere, and 85 ft (26 m) in the Southern Hemisphere.

The fin whale is one of the rorquals, a family that includes the humpback whale, blue whale, Bryde’s whale, sei whale, and minke whale. Rorquals all have a dorsal fin and throat grooves that expand when the animal is feeding. The fin, or finback whale is second only to the blue whale in size and weight. Among the fastest of the great whales, it is capable of bursts of speed of up to 23 mph (37 km/hr) leading to its description as the “greyhound of the sea.” Its most unusual characteristic is the asymmetrical coloring of the lower jaw, which is white or creamy yellow on the right side and mottled black on the left side. Fin whales are found in all oceans of the world, though they seem to prefer temperate and polar waters to tropical seas.

Here are photos of the whale as taken by Schaefer – click images to see larger versions/slideshow:

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03-beachedwhale [7]

02-beachedwhale [8]

09-beachedwhalefront [9]

08-beachedwhaleexamine [10]

07-beachedwhale [11]

04-beachedwhalefin [12]

10-beachedwhale [13]

06-beachedwhalecutfins [14]

05-beachedwhalehead [15]

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