Whale calf died after getting tangled in crab lines


Migrating north to Arctic waters
 Last changed on May 11, 2017 10:20AM
A dead whale calf was examined by researchers on May 4 after being towed to an island in the Columbia estuary.


A dead whale calf was examined by researchers on May 4 after being towed to an island in the Columbia estuary.

LONG BEACH, Wash. — An entangled gray whale calf died after being caught in crab pot lines, Olympia-based science group Cascadia Research Collective reported following an examination.

The whale, a 20-foot-7-inch male born this calving season, was initially reported dead in late April, anchored in place half a mile off of the Seaview beach approach. On May 1, it was discovered the whale was entangled in apparent commercial crab pot gear, researchers said.

The whale was towed to a remote island inside the mouth of the Columbia River.

A necropsy last week showed the whale was at the age when mothers with calves migrate north from their winter breeding and calving grounds in Baja to feeding areas primarily in Arctic waters. This migration is often close to shore and through commercial crabbing grounds.

“The whale was entangled in numerous areas including through the mouth and showed bruising around these areas indicating it was alive when it became entangled (and) had died as a result of the entanglement,” researchers said. “The whale was in excellent body condition with a large and oily blubber layer and even fat reserves around the heart all indicating it had been in good health prior to experiencing a more sudden death. Many of the internal organs were decomposed likely as a result of rapid decomposition due to the insulating blubber layer.”

Whale entanglements have increased in recent years along the West Coast, most dramatically with humpback whales off California, and have been of growing concern, according to Cascadia Research. Authorities are on the lookout for another gray whale first spotted off California that has its head stuck in a metal framework.

These incidents have prompted increased efforts to identify solutions as well as help disentangle whales when encountered still alive, the scientists said. Another threat to whales was highlighted by a boat strike on a well-known adult gray whale in Puget Sound, caught on video in April. Fortunately, that whale survived, though the full extent of its injuries are not yet known, researchers said.

There are an estimated 26,000 gray whales that migrate off the West Coast, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which calls their recovery “a great conservation success story.”

Gray whales were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994.


16 thoughts on “Whale calf died after getting tangled in crab lines

  1. So sad. Another death that will just be written off as collateral damage while killing all the crabs. After all, there a lot of human mouths that must be fed.

      • True enough. But there now enough gourmet eaters to go through the sturgeon population for caviar, deplete bluefin tuna for sushi, and make lives short and miserable for foie gras.

      • Humans are arrogant and stupid. Even the less affluent these days is easily manipulated by big food corporations to indulge in expensive food. This is vicious cycle that will not stop until humans are gone.

        The big fishing corporations are getting more desperate so they are finding more ways to entice people to eat anything they catch. Why should it be okay to have a franchise called “Red Lobster” when these poor animals are cooked alive!
        Because of the greed of the big corporations who comes up with the idea to maximize their profit, and the greed of main stream media who advertise the act of eating an animal without any regard for the fact that the animal was cooked alive.

        We are a society of fat savages, with little brains and big appetite for everything.

  2. Rest In Peace, it must have been a long and hard death for that poor baby. I curse humans, their arrogance and greed. I hope a plague wipes us off the face of this planet.

    • Yes, and it’s happening to dolphins and sea turtles, as well. The turtles could live long lives if we didn’t turn the oceans into death traps.

      • I read so many news of these animals dying, I think I am losing my ability to cope with it. It broke my heart to see the picture of that baby whale.

    • This is from Paul Watson:

      “From my boat, I went into the water and paddled up to the still form. Its skin was still warm and oily to the touch. Blood seemed to be flowing from a gaping wound in its side, and it felt warm in my hand. I stroked the flipper. Below the waves the great jaw flapped rhythmically with the motion of the sea, opening and closing softly like a great gate. The whale child, I calculated (and the photographs confirmed), measured 23 feet–7 feet below UWC regulation limit. I felt lost and lonely upon the ocean with the dead whale child. I reached up and slowly closed the lid over its vacant staring eye.”

      The human species has so much to be proud of, so they say.

      • What can you do when you cannot do anything. The day I read this I was at the office and it was a hard day at work. For a few minutes while I was reading this news it felt as if everything fell away. I didn’t care about anything that I was doing. But what could I do, as always I was just helpless to change a thing. In my heart I cried for that baby whale. I cried later when I went home. A baby died for our greed and arrogance.

      • I agree. It is so sad, and it probably goes on all the timel. But most of the babies don’t have Paul Watson to their passage from this earth at our hands. As long as I may live, I will never get used to the harm we do to the innocents like that baby whale.

  3. Have humpbacks been delisted yet? If entanglements are increasing instead of decreasing after all of this time, there’s more work to be done. Poor baby.

    • I’ve read Paul Watson’s description of his close-up view of whales dying from harpoons. Heartbreaking.

  4. A baby whale’s death from entanglement with crab pot lines…crabs that most likely will be boiled alive. But it’s just collateral damage to the humans who feel entitled to pillage the oceans of all it’s denizens. If before I die, I can just witness the beginning of the demise of the human race, I would exit happily.

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