Dead porpoise found at Sandy Shores
Source: Leslie Brown, Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber
A freshly dead harbor porpoise in pristine condition was found on the beach at Sandy Shores last week. According to Ann Stateler, coordinator of the Vashon Hydrophone Project, such a sighting is rare in the Puget Sound region.
The animal was reported to the hydrophone project on Friday. Stateler, in an email to The Beachcomber, said she examined the adult female and found tooth rake marks and old healed injuries, indicating “that the plucky porpoise survived a transient killer whale attack.” The carcass, however, showed no overt signs of recent physical trauma, such as a strike by a ship.
The cause of death was not immediately apparent. A thorough necropsy and other lab work will identify factors that contributed to the porpoise’s death, she said.
Marine mammal carcasses in excellent condition are highly sought-after for research, she said. Biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Cascadia Research Collective were notified of the find. A biologist with NMFS’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center came from Seattle to collect the specimen.
After decades of decline, the shy harbor porpoise seems to be rebounding in lower Puget Sound; sightings, Stateler said, have increased in the last decade.
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For information on the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network, click here.
To report a sighting or stranding in the Salish Sea, telephone (800) 562-8832 or send an email message.