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Zaandam Cruise Ship
Whale Strike Seward, Alaska

Docked Cruise Ship Has Fin Whale Pinned on Bow May 29 2016

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Zaandam Cruise Ship
Whale Strike Seward, Alaska

Docked Cruise Ship Has Fin Whale Pinned on Bow May 29 2016

Alaska Dispatch News is reporting that Holland America Line's Zaandam arrived at 0506 hours on May 29, 2016 in Seward, Alaska with a fin whale pinned to the bow of the cruise ship, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

After the whale was reported, investigators from NOAA and members of the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Alaska SeaLife Center were dispatched to the dock.

It's unclear if the whale was already dead when it was struck by Zaandam or if the whale was alive at the time it was struck, most likely in Resurrection Bay. Investigators will remove the whale and send it for a necropsy with a veterinary pathologist.

From May to August 2015, 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale and four unidentified species have been spotted dead in the western Gulf of Alaska. Additional whale deaths have been reported in waters off British Columbia, where the toll is four humpbacks and one sperm whale. Scientists haven't conclusively determined what's responsible for the unusual whale mortality event.

One whale found dead at a beach in Portage Bay, Kupreanof Island, Alaska in October 2015, was identified as killer whale 0059, first identified in the early 1990s and has been documented from California to the Bering Sea. The cause of death, after a necropsy was performed was identified as a stroke.

The northeastern Pacific surface temperatures are much higher than normal and warm conditions are expected to continue, thanks to a developing El Nino weather system.

Unusual Mortality Event Related To Harmful Algae Bloom

There were several abnormalities in the Pacific marine environment in 2013 to 2015 which have been labeled an Unusual Mortality Event. Thousands of starving sea lion pups were stranded along the California coast from 2013 to 2016. The sea lions were emaciated, dehydrated and very underweight for their age.

NOAA research vessel Bell M. Shimada conducted a weeks-long fish survey from Vancouver Island down to Southern California. They collected water and algae samples, measured water temperatures, and also tested fish like sardines and anchovies that feed on plankton. Domoic acid concentrations were 10 to 30 times normal levels back in mid-May 2015.

Domoic acid is dangerous in large amounts to marine life, overstimulating the nervous system, causing animals to become lethargic or disoriented, and even seize and die.

A harmful algal bloom of unusual size and duration has emerged in waters from Alaska to California and large numbers of seabirds have died in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

A January 24, 2015 article in National Geographic stated, "This is just massive, massive, unprecedented," said Julia Parrish, a University of Washington seabird ecologist who oversees the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that has tracked West Coast seabird deaths for almost 20 years. "We may be talking about 50,000 to 100,000 deaths. So far."

Other Whale Strike Events Involving Cruise Ships

On July 28, 2010, Sapphire Princess had a humpback whale pinned to the bow while Sapphire Princess was sailing from Ketchikan to Juneau, Alaska.

On July 25, 2009, Sapphire Princess docked at Canada Place Terminal, in Vancouver, Canada, with a dead Fin Whale lodged on its bow. Preliminary reports from the Fisheries and Oceans necropsy suggest the whale might have been sick.

On August 19, 2006, the Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship docked at Seward with a 25-30 foot long humpback whale pinned to its bow. Crew members said they believed they'd snagged the whale somewhere near Yakutat.

In June 1999, Celebrity Galaxy docked in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with a dead Fin whale pinned to the bow.



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