American Shipper

Cargo ship may have dragged dead blue whale into Long Beach port

Cargo ship may have dragged dead blue whale into Long Beach port

Experts speculate that a dead blue whale found floating in Long Beach Harbor last week might have been pulled into the port unknowingly by a cargo ship.

   In the second such discovery in recent days, U.S. Coast Guard personnel discovered the 72-foot-long carcass Sept. 8 in the port's West Basin. Marine researchers found a second blue whale body floating in the Santa Barbara Channel on Tuesday.

   Officials initially speculated the two may have been struck and killed by ships in the area, however an inspection of the Long Beach carcass did not reveal any signs of injury and it remains unclear how the two whales died.

   Local experts speculated that the bodies might have been dragged to the area on the bow of transiting ships.

   'There’s really no other way it would have got into the harbor on its own,” Dave Janiger of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Janiger, a curatorial assistant in the museum's mammology department, inspected the carcass before it was towed to sea and disposed of.

   “It was likely towed into port on the bow of a ship, and the ship’s skipper probably didn’t even realize it,” Janiger told the paper. “The captain might notice the ship slowing down a knot or two, but it might not be noticeable at all.'

   The federal government estimates that because the giant whales — which can weigh close to 150 tons — tend to avoid shipping lanes, collisions with ships are rare.