The dead whale found Friday in the Port of Tacoma was most likely struck by a ship, according to a necropsy performed Saturday.
A team of eight from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Olympia-based Cascadia Research Collective conducted the 61/2-hour necropsy on McNeil Island. The examination revealed that the animal was a 46-foot-long juvenile fin whale.
Fin whales, the second largest species of whale, grow to nearly 88 feet and feed on small marine creatures by filtering them through sieve-like structures in their mouths.
Broken ribs, hemorrhaging, bruising and associated trauma in the whale’s chest cavity indicate that it was alive when the collision happened, said Jessie Huggins, marine mammal-stranding coordinator for Cascadia Research. Crews on tugboats bringing in the cargo ship Ever Uranus on Friday spotted the whale lodged on the ship’s bow. It was unclear whether that ship hit the whale.
The carcass will remain at a secure location on McNeil Island, where it will decompose naturally.