July 28, 2009

Dead whale to be food for sea creatures

The remains of a fin whale found impaled on the bow of a cruise ship when it arrived in Vancouver has been towed to sea to provide nourishment for marine life.

Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the carcass was lowered into the depths Monday somewhere west of Vancouver Island in the Pacific Ocean, The Victoria Times Colonist reported. There, it will provide food for other ocean animals.

The whale, more than 60 feet long, was emaciated but still weighed about 70 tons when it arrived Saturday in Vancouver. The Sapphire Princess, a Princess Lines cruise ship, apparently collided with the whale somewhere north of Vancouver Island on its way into port from an Alaskan cruise.

Scientists at the Institute of Ocean Scientists carried out a necropsy on Sunday. Cottrell said they found the stomach empty and the whale's blubber layer thin.

The scientists have not yet determined whether the whale was still alive when hit by the ship.

Fin whales are second only to blue whales in size. They were heavily hunted in the past.