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Oct-05-2006 16:37printcomments

Sea Creatures Shock Beach Goers in Oregon and Washington

Humpbacks are also known as the "singing whale". During mating season males produce an elaborate song that can last up to 20 minute and changes each year.

Whale and shark
Photos courtesy: Andre' Hagestedt

(LONG BEACH, Wa.) - A Humpback Whale washed ashore on the Long Beach Peninsula Tuesday afternoon. It certainly is not an everyday occurrence, though plenty of whales have washed onto the shorelines of both Washington and Oregon over the years.

The whales are usually studied and documented by wildlife officials and can present great difficulties when it comes to removal. Most people have heard that the Oregon Highway Department once made a decision to blow a beached whale up with dynamite. My old station KATU is the one that was there and the clip is available on the Internet.

Andre' Hagestedt from beachconnection.net shot these photos of the huge marine mammal.

The Humpback isn't the only large sea creature to emerge this week either, Oregon officials say a live Blue Shark was recovered from a Seaside beach and transported to the Seaside Aquarium.

Tiffany Boothe with the Seaside Aquarium says the whale in particular, is a rare sight, "In the 10 years that the Seaside Aquarium has been active in the marine mammal stranding network this is the first humpback Whale to wash ashore in our area."

Humpbacks are in all oceans form the poles to the topics.

Northern Pacific Humpbacks like the one that washed ashore feed in the cooler waters of Bering and Chukchi Seas in the summer and migrate to Hawaii, Mexico and even Japan to breed.

In the winter, humpbacks often seen off Washington, Oregon, and California migrate to the warmer waters of Mexico to give birth.

Boothe says they can reach sizes of about 50 feet; the largest recorded humpback was approximately 64 feet and weighed about 64 tons. The one that washed in was a full grown mature female approximately 50 feet.

Humpback whales are a threatened species. There are about 7,000 individuals in the northern hemisphere. Catalogs have been prepared of individual whales, identified by shape color pattern and marks on the flukes.

Humpbacks are also known as the "singing whale". During mating season males produce an elaborate song that can last up to 20 minute and changes each year.

All males in the same breeding grounds will sing the same song. Humpbacks can be seen along or in groups of about 15 individuals.

Boothe says they feed on schools of small fish and crustaceans, by trapping food in their baleen plate that line their upper jaw.

As if the whale wasn't enough to keep people at the Seaside Aquarium busy, a Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) washed in on the Seaside Beach Thursday. The shark was 5 feet long and still alive. Aquarium manager Keith Chandler made the successful recovery after the shark had been out of water for about 3o minutes. Chandler says they brought it straight to the Seaside Aquarium in attempts to rehab it.

"The shark looked as if it may have been caught in a net. The shark is currently being housed in a large tank in the back of the aquarium." He says it is still alive but very lethargic. Chandler says that the chances of the shark surviving are very slim. If the shark does survive, the Seaside Aquarium plans on giving the shark to another aquarium.

Blue sharks are common to this area; in fact they live in most seas from Alaska to Chile. They prefer water that is between 45-69 degrees F. They are primarily off shore but to come closer to shore at night.

The average size of a blue shark is about 6 feet though they can reach lengths of over 12 feet. They feed on all most anything including garbage but they prefer squid.




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Love Smierk June 23, 2012 9:50 pm (Pacific time)

I seen a whale at Long Beach, Washington it was some kind of hum bac k it was amazing, it shot out water!!!! I would totally make a story a bout it.


No kablooie? October 5, 2006 10:54 pm (Pacific time)

Glad to hear that no one's considering blowing the poor thing up! Holy moly, that'd be a mess. Again. Ah... we really can learn from the past!

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