Stranded killer whale update: On Jan. 7 a dead 2.4m long killer whale calf was found on Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Wash., by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff. The body was recovered and a full necropsy was conducted on Jan. 8.
Members of several local stranding network groups, including NOAA, Cascadia Research Collective, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife worked with Dr. Stephen Raverty on the exam. Samples have been sent out for diagnostic analysis to investigate potential cause of death.
Initial DNA sequence analysis by NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center revealed that the stranded male calf was a member of the Southern Resident killer whale population. Additional genetic analysis will be conducted to assign the calf to a pod or matriline if possible.
The stranding network will continue to fully investigate killer whale strandings to learn as much as possible from these sad events. The network is working to complete a report on the stranding of L112, a Southern Resident that stranded last February, and a review summarizing results from several killer whale strandings from the last several years.
Satellite tag project update: The NWFSC has been updating its web page at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cbd/marine_mammal/satellite_tagging.cfm with new maps to show the track of K25, an adult male Southern Resident killer whale that was tagged on Dec. 29, 2012.
As of Jan. 13, he had traveled south along the Washington, Oregon and California coasts to the Bodega Bay area, and then reversed course off of Pt. Reyes and started heading north.