Scientists investigate dead orca whale found near Petersburg

PETERSBURG — Scientists are investigating the death of an orca whale found on the shore of Kupreanof Island north of Petersburg.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration responded to the sighting on Friday. Fisheries Spokeswoman Julie Speegle said a team of marine mammal experts went to the area to secure the killer whale and take samples, KFSK-FM reported.

“We are going forward with plans to do a necropsy in the next few days,” she said, noting that the cause of death was unknown and that people should keep a safe distance away from the mammal.

Greg Lutton said he’d been moose hunting and was leaving Portage Bay on the north side of the island when he saw the dead whale along the shoreline.

“I’ve been fishing for 40 years now and never seen a dead killer whale,” he said.

He said he didn’t see any signs of trauma on the orca and that he thinks it just washed up on shore. He measured the whale at 17 feet 4 inches long and says it was a female.

People can report similar sightings to NOAA Fisheries using the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline.

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