Dead endangered orca died of blunt trauma, likely struck
SEATTLE (AP) — Officials in Canada say an endangered Puget Sound orca found off the coast of British Columbia died of blunt trauma to its head and dorsal side.
The initial necropsy from Fisheries and Oceans Canada shows the 18-year-old male killer whale was alive at the time he was hit.
Paul Cottrell, a marine mammal coordinator with the agency, said Friday that the 22-foot long whale was likely struck, though it’s unclear whether it was by a boat or another animal. The agency is investigating the cause as well as doing more blood and tissue tests on the whale.
The orca called J-34 was seen floating Dec. 20 near the shore of Sechelt, northwest of Vancouver.
The Center for Whale Research says four other whales in the J pod — one of three families of southern resident killer whales — have died this year.
The population now totals 79 animals.