Humpback whale found dead on cruise ship’s bow in Ketchikan
A dead humpback whale was found on the bow of a ship arriving in Ketchikan Wednesday morning, according to federal authorities.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced the discovery in a brief statement Wednesday, saying it was “unable to provide any additional information.”
“At this time, NOAA Fisheries is coordinating to have the whale carcass towed to a nearby location suitable for a necropsy to determine the cause of death,” NOAA officials wrote.
A Princess Cruises statement said that the vessel involved was the cruise ship Grand Princess. Officials with the cruise line were "surprised and saddened" by Wednesday's discovery on the ship's bulbous bow, noting that the company has whale-avoidance programs which require changing course and speed as needed.
“It is unknown how or when this happened as the ship felt no impact,” Princess officials wrote. “It is also unknown, at this time, whether the whale was alive or already deceased before becoming lodged on the bow. No whales were sighted in close proximity to the ship, by the bridge navigation team, as it sailed towards Ketchikan overnight.”
NOAA spokeswoman Allyson Rogers emphasized that investigators haven’t yet determined whether the whale was killed by a ship strike. She declined to discuss when and where the ship’s crew first noticed the whale, or the whale’s apparent age or gender Wednesday morning.
“Because it’s part of the investigation, those details won’t be released later until further parts of the investigation have been solidified and witnesses have been spoken to,” Rogers said.
Princess officials said the whale, which they were told by NOAA biologists initially appeared to be a juvenile, had been removed from the bow by a tugboat Wednesday.
Last year, a juvenile fin whale was found dead on the bow of the Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam when it arrived in Seward in late May.