Tag Archives: orcas puget sound

Southern Resident Orca “Scoter” Hit by Invasive Satellite Tag by NOAA – To What End?

This is a unique population of friendly, urban whales. (Center for Whale Research photo).

Wounds left by a satellite tag on an orca in previous studies.

The NOAA announcement:
Southern Resident Killer Whale Satellite Tagging
December 31, 2012 Update – As a continuation of a project began last year to help us understand where Southern resident killer whales go in the winter, and thus their winter habitat use, NWFSC researchers tagged an adult male, K25, in Puget Sound on December 29, 2012 with a satellite-linked tag. The information gathered from this tag will address the data gap in winter distribution identified in the Recovery Plan as well as provide information for improving Critical Habitat designation. This technique was recently identified as an important approach for addressing this issue by the independent science panel that assessed the impact of salmon fisheries on southern resident killer whales (http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/ESA-Status/upload/KW-Chnk-final-rpt.pdf).

For the most recently available track of K25 and more information on the satellite tagging project, please visit http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cbd/marine_mammal/satellite_tagging.cfm. We appreciate the work of all our partners to protect and conserve killer whales and their habitats, and look forward to continued efforts in 2013. Thank you and happy New Year!

While NOAA is very careful to explain that the Southern Resident orca population is not recovering at a rate likely to sustain positive growth, they have also concluded that reducing the commercial catch of the orca’s primary food, Chinook salmon, may or may not help the whales and hence NOAA is not recommending changes to commercial catch.  Basically, the problem is too complex for the researchers to sort out, but because the orcas are classed as an endangered species the researchers justify a more invasive tagging program – inquiring minds want to know where these orcas go in the winter.
What difference will this knowledge make to the whale population? The researchers claim that the data will assist them in defining a ‘critical habitat’ – although they don’t say how this will do anything to help the whales if fisheries are allowed to continue taking Chinook salmon at present levels in that habitat, or if the military operations that are harmful are allowed to continue in those regions.
The scientists explain in detail why less invasive studies have failed or are too expensive, and show that these tags have been used on other species, but does that justify risking the well-being of this endangered population? NOAA’s last fail whale attempt stayed on the orca “Mike” (J 26) all of three days and revealed nothing new about the whale’s distribution. And do they really know the impact of these tags? This monk seal (another endangered species) definitely seems impacted by the tag:

Elephant seal with satellite tag.

Ribbon seal with satellite tag.

If the tag stays on it will be interesting to see how Scoter (K 25) uses the environment, but I’m not sure how much the researchers will be able to extrapolate to the entire population, nor is it at all evident that the information is going to be put to use to protect the whales and not commercial interests.

Whales Protest! Southern Resident Orca Still in Small Tank – 42 Years Today

Today (August 8th) is the 42nd commemoration of the disastrous orca capture that snared a young whale and sentenced her to a life in a tiny tank.
She was first given the name Tokitae, which was changed to the cheesy “Lolita” by the Miami Seaquarium. A few years ago, as a reminder that she is a member of the endangered population of orcas, we gave her the honorary number L-pc25 (“L” for her natal pod, “pc” for Penn Cove where she was captured, and “25” for the whale assumed to be her mother L-25, who still swims free).
The whales, for their part, are staging a protest:

To learn more, and to help bring this whale home to her family, consider attending one of today’s events:

Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA – August 2012 marks the 42nd anniversary of Lolita’s capture from her family, the Southern Resident orcas, in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, WA.
To commemorate this anniversary, Orca Network is holding our annual event in Coupeville on the waters and shore of Penn Cove to remember all the orcas who died during the captures or in captivity, and to honor Lolita, or Tokitae, the sole survivor of those taken from the Southern Resident orcas, held in a small tank at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970.
On Wednesday August 8th, please join us from 4 – 6 pm, for a ceremonial cruise on Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, around the perimeter of the capture site. Captain John Stone of Aeolian Adventures has generously offered his 52 foot classic ketch, Cutty Sark, for this two hour cruise with special guests (very limited space available – tickets $40/person), and Captain Billy Wind has offered his sailboat Stella Blue as well for those without boats who want to participate in the on-the-water portion of the event, for a $30 fee. You may also participate with your own sail or motor boat, kayak, or rowboat and join our fleet by launching from Capt. Coupe Park in Coupeville, to join our vessels at the Coupeville Wharf for a group departure at 4 pm.
We’ll travel to the capture site in Penn Cove for a wreath ceremony to remember the orcas killed in the capture, and those who have died in captivity. We’ll provide flowers and cedar sprigs to toss into the water, or you may bring your own flower or other eco-friendly offering to toss in the water during the ceremony. The vessels will circle Penn Cove and the capture site, and time/weather permitting, will take a short tour of Penn Cove before returning to the Coupeville Wharf at approximately 6 pm.
Following the on-the-water events, we will gather at the Coupeville Wharf at 6 pm for a few short presentations, music from the Shifty Sailors (6:30 pm), and sharing of stories about the captures, Lolita, and the future of her family, the Southern Resident orcas, and updates on other captive orca news, such as the release of the new book “Death at SeaWorld” by David Kirby.

SeaWorld versus the orca Springer; the one that got away


Springer, a young orca who was captured, released, and reunited successfully. (Photo Courtesy Leah Robinson, Orcalab Aug 16 2011)

Ten years ago Canadian and American citizens, governments, and environmental groups coordinated the rescue of an orphaned orca, Springer, and returned her to her natal pod where she continues to thrive
.
To mark the anniversary, celebrations are planned in Canada and the U.S.  Join in and learn more about Springer’s remarkable story, and how rescue and release of whales and dolphins can work again in the future:

Springer (also known as A73), a two-year old orphan of Canada’s Northern Resident killer whale population, appeared 10 years ago in Puget Sound near Vashon Island after becoming separated from her family. Three hundred miles from home, the little orca captured international attention and galvanized community support for a relocation effort.
Concerned about her weakening health and increasing human interactions, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and Vancouver Aquarium mounted the first-ever orca relocation project.
“The decision to rescue Springer was not an easy one to make,” said Will Stelle, director of NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest regional office in Seattle. “There were risks and unknowns every step of the way. In the end, we were successful because we worked as a team. Community involvement and support were a key part of the project.”
Today, Springer is healthy and fully integrated with her extended family, and has returned each year to their summering grounds in Johnstone Strait.
Events include an evening celebration open to the public (registration required) at the Vancouver Aquarium on Tuesday, June 12 at 7PM; an afternoon public program at Seattle’s Alki Beach Bathhouse on Saturday, June 23 at 11 AM; and a 10th anniversary reunion at Telegraph Cove, B.C., from July 12 to 15.

But Springer’s story could have turned out  differently. Several aquariums – including SeaWorld – lobbied to have her brought into captivity, but fortunately an environmental group located legal documents  containing a 1976 agreement between SeaWorld and Washington State (a result of the Penn Cove fiasco), proving that SeaWorld is barred from participating in any capture of any orca in Washington waters.
Statistically speaking had Springer ended up at SeaWorld she may have been dead by now (according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), “At least 137 orcas have been brought into captivity from the wild since 1961. 124 are now dead, surviving an average only four years in captivity.”).
Or, like other captive whales she would have been bred far too young.
A similarly aged SeaWorld orca, Kohana (born in 2002) was impregnated at seven, and summarily rejected her calf, Adan.  She is again pregnant by her uncle, Keto, and is due to have her second calf this fall. In this video you can see her calf Adan swimming alone after he was born.

Adan has never been accepted by the other orcas, and is often placed in a tank with Morgan, the young female orca rescued in Holland and now sharing the pools at Loro Parque, Spain with other SeaWorld orcas – in spite of international efforts to return her to wild family.   Both Adan and Morgan are outcasts, unable to form bonds with the older whales.
Unlike Springer, the captive industry prevailed in Morgan’s case, and her life seems bleak when compared to the normalcy of life in the wild enjoyed by Springer. Although rumors are rife that Morgan has health issues, there has been no hard data presented to support this, nor is there proof of when such damage occurred.
Meanwhile in the wild, Springer was fostered by various older females and now spends her time with a small group, where she is often seen ‘helping’ with younger calves.
Please mark your calendar and try to attend one of these celebrations to learn more about this successful rescue and release, and to commend the people, groups, businesses, and government officials who came together to give Springer this chance to live wild and free.
For more information:  The Whale Trail

The orcas are back with a calf in tow – J, K, and L pods showed up today 5/29/12

Center for Whale Research photo

“87 ORCA WHALES TODAY…SUPER POD!!! All three Resident Pods are back in our waters. With an unconfirmed new calf in L Pod… We will wait for the Center for Whale Research‘s official report but a new calf that appears to be 2-3 weeks old… WAHOOO!!!”
Seen and reported by Ocean EcoVentures Whale Watching
to Orca Network

This Dolphin Detonation Event Was Brought to You by the U.S. Navy

(Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins)

The text below is taken from the published article, I made some changes to avoid acronyms and metrics.  Please consult the original document for details, as well as to learn about the birds and fish that were also affected.
Seabird and Dolphin Mortality Associated with Underwater Detonation Exercises

On 4 March 2011, ‘mine counter-measure training’ was conducted on the ocean [near San Diego] A single time-delayed C4 block demolition charge …was detonated on the sandy ocean floor at a depth of [48 feet], … approximately 0.5-0.75 nautical miles from shore. At 5 minutes prior to the detonation, a group of 100-150 long-beaked common dolphins was observed entering the 640-[yard] mitigation zone by safety observers.

Options to retrieve the charge via divers or from the surface to stop the detonation were considered. However, the short time interval to detonation made this too risky for personnel. An effort to discourage the dolphins from entering the area by placing a boat between the detonation site and the school of dolphins was unsuccessful.

One minute after the detonation, three dolphins were observed motionless at the surface. The rest of the school continued to travel in the same direction as it had been prior to the detonation. The Navy recovered the three animals and transferred them to the local stranding network for necropsy. An additional long-beaked common dolphin stranded dead approximately [42 miles] north of the detonation site, 3 days later.

All four dolphins sustained typical mammalian primary blast injuries.

The distances from various types of underwater detonations at which death, injury, and temporary hearing loss (called a temporary threshold shift, TTS) are expected to occur in marine mammals have been estimated by the Navy and are termed the Zone of Influence (ZOI). …Based on these estimates the dolphins killed would have been within [120 feet] of the blast.

The observed mortality does not exceed the current PBR of 164 for this population, indicating that the blast event alone will not adversely effect the long-beaked common dolphin population (Potential biological removal (PBR) is the maximum number of animals that can be removed from a population through non-natural means and still maintain an optimum sustainable population (Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1994, Amendments). A PBR is calculated for each recognized population of a specie of 164).

However, had four common bottlenose dolphins belonging to the coastal population been killed in the blast, a population effect would be expected, because the PBR for this population is 2.4 The coastal common bottlenose dolphin is common in the waters off San Diego and found within [500 yards] of the shoreline 99% of the time.  The small size of this population and its occurrence in the very near-shore waters of San Diego make this population of critical concern in relation to underwater detonation activities occurring in the region.

The Center for Whale Research has put together an informative page about a similar explosive event  that cost the life of at least one endangered Southern Resident orca, L – 112 (or Victoria, as she was affectionately known).  The following is from a letter written by Ken Balcomb, senior scientist at the Center, the entire text of which can be found on the Center’s website:

Ken Balcomb, Senior Scientist at The Center for Whale Research

I wish to thank Scott Rasmussen for his article (The Journal March 14, 2012) on the necropsy of the three year old baby orca designated L112 that I named “Victoria”, (not “Sooke”) when I first saw her. She was one of the most darling and affectionate little whales in this Endangered population, and she will be sorely missed by humans and by the whale population.
The final results of analysis of her tissues and fluids found in her cranium may take some time, but it is important to note that ALL of the expert observations of her bloody and bruised carcass, and her head, concluded that there is strong evidence of near instantaneous lethal destruction of tissues, mostly on one side, consistent with blast trauma, as already reported.
Her death was undoubtedly caused by humans, and we have to look for the source of the blast. I have asked the Law Enforcement division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to investigate so that there will be a clear set of rules concerning withholding, filtering, or losing evidence in this case.
…This is really a tragic bureaucratic jungle situation for the whales and other marine life in the Olympic Coast National Marine “Sanctuary”, and I fear it is even more tragic for our wonderful notion of honest and transparent governance. Yeah, this is a complicated issue; but, at this rate the easiest and most forthright way out is to rename the sanctuary: Olympic Coast National Marine Bombing Range (OCNMBR), and say “bye bye” to the whales.
Citizens have until April 27, 2012 to provide public comment on the expansion of, and the activities within, the NWTRC; and, I suppose it would be OK to suggest changing the name if that is our collective wish.
It is absurd to call it a sanctuary.

Luna the Whale’s Gift – He Taught Us What We Are in Danger of Losing

The recent death of the young orca Victoria (L-112) who was killed by an explosive force may seem to some to be inconsequential in the scope of the need for military preparedness. Somehow we humans think that this planet is ours alone, and that our petty squabbles are so important that we have the right to destroy not just each other, but potentially most of life on Earth.
We rely upon world leaders to keep the scale of our conflicts within bounds, to limit where and how the military forces can practice with bombs, gasses, diseases, and sound. Once thought to be both bountiful and indestructible, the planet’s oceans seemed to be the logical alternative.
But now we know better, we know that the life of the sea is in peril everywhere, that the oceans are losing their capacity to absorb abuse, and that military excursions can destroy – in seconds – entire communities of animals.
What are we losing? The story of Luna (L-98), shows us the nature of a species that may turn out one of the only other friendly intelligent beings in a lonely universe. This particular population of orcas, the Southern Residents, is unique and when they are gone they will take with them a rare and irreplaceable culture. (Please take our poll on the Navy impact).
The filmmakers have now made it possible for you to show this touching tale in your own community.

Movie on the Move – Book your screening now!
 
Wherever you live, you can now host your own screening of The Whale through our new screening program, Movie on the Move!
The home video DVD won’t be out for a few more months, but we are now offering the film to any individual or group that wants to host a screening. There will be a fee in advance, but no revenue sharing will be required if you charge admission, no matter how much your group makes. You keep all the proceeds.
That makes it very easy to use The Whale for fundraisers or for any other kind of event. In the fundraisers for which the film has already been used, thousands of dollars have been raised for worthy causes.
Here’s how it works. You book the film, you organize the venue, and you decide what you’d like to do. You can use it as a fundraiser; you can show it to your film group or church group or school or NGO; you can charge admission; you can open the doors to anyone. It’s up to you.
We will provide you with a DVD or Blu-ray, and still photos, videos, and other information to help you promote your screening. We can also help with posters, and when possible we can arrange for one of the directors to do a post-screening Skype video call. We can also help promote your screening on our website and on our social media networks.
The license fee for a community group or non-profit fundraising screening is $250. For film festivals and commercial screenings, the fee is $350.
Questions? For more information and to book your screening, please e-mail us directly at suzanne@thewhalemovie.com.

Navy Versus Whales and Dolphins (Caution – Snooze Alert) (At Least Until the Explosives Detonate)

Could the Navy be more obtuse and boring?  Probably.  Could this issue be more important?  Maybe.  But for anyone desiring to know what the Navy does to the marine environment, now is your chance.

What you will learn might seem to depend upon both your stamina and your ability to translate acronyms into language, but don’t be fooled – under the surface, these issues are very basic.
As to your stamina – the original document “Northwest Training Range Complex Environmental lmpact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement” is a mind-crushing 727 pages long.
And as far as acronyms go, doesn’t this sound like fun – “The NWTT EIS/OEIS is environmental planning analysis for testing and training activities to support re-issuance of authorization for permitted activities analyzed by the Navy in previous environmental documents.”  And only 726 more pages to go.
But if you care about things like ‘Dumping Ground Explosives Military’ –  such as what shows up in the recent satellite track of an endangered Southern Resident orca (below) – now is the time to voice your opinion.
DON’T BE MISTAKEN:  THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION ABOUT NAVAL ACTIVITIES IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT.

Notice the fine print in this map.

It is time to hold the Navy’s collective hands to the fire and make them disclose how their activities impact the marine environment.  And by the way, the “open house sessions” are held in low population areas, not exactly easy for many of those who care about these issues (check bottom of page).
Could it be more inconvenient?  There is nothing about this to make you want to go…but there is an online option (http://www.nwtteis.com/). Please do your best to have an impact.

NAVY TO HOLD OPEN HOUSE INFORMATION SESSIONS
FOR NORTHWEST TRAINING AND TESTING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT/OVERSEAS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
SILVERDALE, Wash. – The U.S. Navy is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from military readiness training and testing activities conducted primarily within existing range complexes and testing ranges in the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Study Area.
The Navy is initiating the scoping process to identify community concerns and issues for analysis in the EIS/OEIS. The Navy is seeking public involvement and input, which are fundamental parts of the EIS/OEIS development under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). As part of the public participation process, the Navy will hold open house information sessions to obtain public input on the scope, environmental resources or issues to address in the EIS/OEIS.
The NWTT EIS/OEIS is environmental planning analysis for testing and training activities to support re-issuance of authorization for permitted activities analyzed by the Navy in previous environmental documents.
The Navy proposes to adjust training and testing activities to support current and planned requirements and accommodate evolving mission requirements associated with force structure changes, including those resulting from the development, testing, introduction of new vessels, aircraft and weapon system(s).
The Proposed Action would ensure the Navy accomplishes its mission to maintain, train and equip combat-ready military forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.
The public is invited to attend open house information sessions to learn about the Proposed Action and to provide comments on factors to be considered in the EIS/OEIS. The public may arrive at any time during each open house information session. There will not be a presentation or formal oral comment session. Navy representatives will be available to discuss the project and the Proposed Action.
All written comments must be postmarked or received during the comment period to be considered in the Draft EIS. Written comments must be postmarked by April 27, 2012, and mailed to:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest
ATTN: Mrs. Kimberly Kler – NWTT Project Manager
1101 Tautog Circle
Silverdale, WA 98315-1100
Comments may also be submitted online at www.NWTTEIS.com or submitted in person at the open house information sessions.

Locations:

Nine open house information sessions will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the following locations:
Washington:     Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Oak Harbor School District
Administrative Services Center Board Room
350 S. Oak Harbor St.
Oak Harbor
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Quilcene School District
Multipurpose Room
294715 U.S. Highway 101
Quilcene
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Central Kitsap High School Cafeteria
3700 NW Anderson Hill Road
Silverdale
Friday, March 16, 2012
Grays Harbor College HUB
1620 Edward P. Smith Drive
Aberdeen
Oregon: Monday, March 19, 2012
Tillamook County Fairgrounds Auditorium
4603 E. 3rd St.
Tillamook
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Hatfield Marine Science Center
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport
California:     Thursday, March 22, 2012
Eureka Public Marina, Wharfinger Building
#1 Marina Way
Eureka
Friday, March 23, 2012
Fort Bragg Town Hall
363 N. Main St.
Fort Bragg
Alaska: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Ted Ferry Civic Center
888 Venetia Ave.
Ketchikan
Visit the project website at www.NWTTEIS.com to learn more about the project.

Tracking Device on Orca Whale “Mike” Useless, Fails After Three Days

On February 20th, researchers from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shot a tracking device into the dorsal fin of the young male orca “Mike” (J-26). Mike likely flinched and dove when the razor barbs opened in the flesh of his fin, but with no other option seemed to go about life as usual with his mom and two younger sisters – at least for the three days that the device continued to function. (Southern Resident Killer Whale Satellite Tagging)

Dart tracking device embeds in the dorsal fin.

These devices are euphemistically called ‘tags’ because they are the modern genesis of the familiar ear tags used on livestock, but are really sophisticated data gathering GPS units. Designed to remain in place for 1 – 3 months, the idea is that the tracking device will provide information on the endangered Southern Resident orca’s winter distribution.
The justification for the invasive ‘tagging’ program is that scientists can’t define critical habitat for the whales until they know where the orcas go when they are not in the Salish Sea. Somehow the researchers seem to think that harassing the fragile population of orcas and throwing large amounts of money and time at this question will yield information that will help save the Resident orcas – but the scientists already know what the problem is:  the orcas’ primary food prey, Chinook salmon, have become an unreliable food source.  Some years the orcas seem to find enough to eat, but other years the cyclic nature of salmon populations leaves the orcas hungry. (See The Center Conservation Biology).  The biologists at NOAA have known this for years.
No one knows where Mike and his family are at the moment – which they wouldn’t have known anyway.  Except Mike is now swimming with a useless device impaled in his fin, or has lost the device and now has twin wounds penetrating his tissue.
Where “Mike” (J-26) went over the three days that the device functioned.

It is understandable that the scientists want to define the winter range of the Southern Resident orcas, it is a question that has perplexed researchers for decades, and the researchers are every bit as concerned about the welfare of the orcas as is any activist. But there is a fine line between necessary science, satisfying curiosity, and meeting some ridiculous rule about defining habitat before proceeding to do what needs to be done to protect the whales.  Even in the confines of the Salish Sea, around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands the government is unable to enforce the regulations already in place, and it is absurd to think they will be able to do so out on the open ocean.
No, the problem is that no one wants to do the only thing that will truly help the orcas because the fix is both highly contentious and expensive; restore Chinook salmon populations.
Studying the problem to death or falling into the trap of ‘being the one’ to discover something are tactics that allow NOAA to keep its head in the sand while both the salmon and the orcas disappear, and certainly the scientists find this as upsetting as anyone else. The government needs to find the money to fix the salmon problem, or citizens need to take it upon ourselves to restore salmon habitat and choose something else on our dinner plates besides the shrinking (in size as well as in number) Chinook salmon. And let the orcas swim in peace.
“Mike” (J-26) usually swims with his mom and two younger sisters. (Photo by Dave Ellifrit)

Dead Orca Calf is Three Year Old Victoria, One of the Endangered Southern Resident Orcas

This young orca’s death following traumatic injuries has left everyone puzzled – there are only two predators that could inflict this kind of damage: another whale, or humans. Did she get hit by a boat? Have her hearing blown by underwater noise? Was she attacked by unrelated transient (dolphin eating) whales? We may never know, but hopes are high that her death will yield information about the diet, contaminants, genealogy, and stressors on this population of orcas.
That is little comfort though, and her death is another blow to the struggling population.

Little Victoria, L-112, was named for the beautiful city waterfront where she was first seen in January 2009. She had grown into a robust juvenile.

Playing with mom, L-86

L112 with big brother L106 Photo by Ken Balcomb on September 11, 2011

From Cascadia Research Collective:

A detailed external and internal examination was conducted on February 12, 2012 of a stranded killer whale that washed up just north of Long Beach, Washington on the morning of February 11. The 12’3” (3.75m) juvenile female was taken to a secure location for a full necropsy by biologists and volunteers from a number of organizations that are part of the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network, including Portland State University, Cascadia Research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations, Seaside Aquarium, Seattle Seal Sitters, the Makah Tribe, and NOAA Fisheries.
The whale was moderately decomposed and in good overall body condition.
Internal exam revealed significant trauma around the head, chest and right side; at this point the cause of these injuries is unknown.
There have been reports of sonar activity in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the past week and a half and members of K and L pod were reportedly in the area at the time as well.
We do not know if this whale was among those in the area but the possibility is under consideration. The skeleton will be cleaned and closely evaluated by Portland State University for signs of fracture and the head has been retained intact for biological scanning. Additionally, samples were taken for a variety of analyses: genetics, contaminants, bacteriology, virology, food habits, biotoxins and histopathology. The processing of these tissue samples could take several weeks or months and will hopefully provide insight into the origin of the traumatic injuries or other factors that may have contributed to the death of this whale.

Dead Juvenile Orca Found on Long Beach, Wa.

Scientists examine the dead orca prior to necropsy.

The tide brought in an unwelcome sight on Saturday – nestled on the sand was the body of another young orca (the first was a young offshore type that washed up in November), possibly one of the Southern Resident population.
Although there is speculation that this is one of the L pod members, it is way too early to know – it could be another offshore or even a transient type.  Scientists rarely speculate on the origins until the necropsy results are in, but there are definite physical differences in the three types that may have indicated a higher probability that this in one of the Residents, so it is not the best news that they were willing to speculate in this case.
The only upside is that the body washed up where it could be found at all since usually the orcas just disappear and their deaths are only known when they fail to show up with their family members and/or are not observed during seasonal censuses.
Long Beach is close to the Oregon border, so officials from Seaside Aquarium were contacted.
From The Oregonian:

A dead orca washed ashore Saturday near Long Beach, Wash., just weeks after two other whales were found dead on the beach.
The 12-foot female orca washed ashore about a mile north of the Cranberry approach, Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium wrote in an e-mail. She said that obvious external signs of decomposition confirmed the whale had been dead for a while, and the animal was moved for a necropsy, which was performed Sunday by Portland State University biology professor Debbie Duffield and Cascadia Research biologists.
The necropsy revealed hemorrhaging, indicating major trauma, Boothe wrote.
“Obvious external signs of decomposition confirmed that the animal had been dead for a while before washing ashore,” Boothe said. “The exact age of the whale has yet to be determined but the size indicates that the animal was no more than six years old and maybe as young as three.”
Scientists from the Network think it’s likely the whale was part of the L pod, which along with a handful of other pods are residents of the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast. Further DNA testing will be done on the female to confirm this, however.