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Blunt force strike likely killed humpback whale, necropsy shows

A preliminary necropsy report on the humpback, discovered last weekend off Malcolm Island, shows a large area of trauma on the female whale’s dorsal side, indicating a possible vessel strike
Drone footage of the area where the dead humpback was secured to shore. JARED TOWERS, DFO, under Marine mammal licence MML 42

The humpback whale discovered last weekend off Malcolm Island likely died from blunt-force trauma, possibly after being hit by a boat, according to a preliminary necropsy report by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Results showed a large area of trauma on the female whale’s dorsal side, indicating a possible vessel strike.

The humpback BCX1847, also known as Spike, was a juvenile estimated to be about seven years old. She had been a regular visitor around the North Island since first being documented in 2018.

The DFO said additional results of the necropsy will be available after the photos, tissues and pathology are analyzed and interpreted by veterinary pathologist Dr. Stephen Raverty.

A more detailed diagnostic report on the injuries and any other issues with the humpback will be released in about a week, and a final report is expected in two months.

The whale’s severely bloated body was discovered by dog walkers on the north side of Malcolm Island and was secured to shore for the necropsy.

The ‘Namgis First Nation held a cultural ceremony to honour the whale prior to the necropsy.

Humpback whales are especially active in the fall months, gorging on large amounts of krill and small fish before starting migrations to breeding and birthing grounds in Hawaii, Mexico and Central America.

Scientists says they are in danger of boat strikes during this time because they are focused on feeding and vessels can’t always predict their paths.

Anyone who sees a marine mammal in distress is asked to call the marine mammal incident reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

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