Exam: Gray whale found dead in Seattle had air in chest that likely prevented it from diving

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(Photo: Cascadia Research)

SEATTLE (AP) — A juvenile gray whale found dead over the weekend in Seattle’s Elliott Bay had air in its chest cavity that likely prevented it from diving for food.

A necropsy conducted by Cascadia Research Collaborative on Thursday confirmed what scientists observed earlier this month.

Jessie Huggins, the group’s stranding coordinator, says they still don’t know what caused all that air to build up in the whale’s chest. It could be a previous traumatic injury, disease or both. Tests of tissue samples may provide more information.

The 35-foot female whale was first spotted off Kingston in late April. It apparently had trouble diving. Gray whales feed by diving to the sea floor and sifting sediment for food.

Several state and federal agencies were involved in tracking and monitoring the whale over several weeks. It was found dead Sunday near downtown Seattle and eventually towed to Indian Island where it was examined.

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