What killed orca L112?

Joe Gaydos conducting the necropsy by Sandy Buckley

Joe Gaydos conducting the necropsy by Sandy Buckley

What killed the 3-year-old killer whale that washed up in Southern Washington a couple of years ago? Joe Gaydos was one of 15 investigators who studied the whale to try to understand what happened to it. Their report was published February 25, 2014.

Joe was quoted in the Associated Press article about the report:

"This whale was killed from a blunt-force trauma, but [despite] every effort possible, we couldn't tell if it came from another ship or whale," said Joseph Gaydos, a co-author of the report and wildlife veterinarian with SeaDoc Society, a program of the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. "The evidence doesn't support that it was a sonar episode or explosion."

See the full article by Phuong Le at the Seattle Times.

L112 Stranding Final Report

The Southern Resident Killer Whales Recovery Plan makes responding to standings of killer whales a priority. The Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network has nearly completed its investigation of the stranding involving southern resident L112 (Sooke) on Long Beach, Washington, February 11, 2012. Based on findings from the gross examination and the absence of conclusive histopathology or ancillary test results The Network team found that blunt force trauma was the primary consideration for the acute death of the animal. Weather and sea surface data for coastal Oregon and Washington, and drift patterns for the Columbia River plume suggested that L112 had likely been carried for some days in the Columbia River eddies or drifted from the south before being cast on Long Beach. Sonar and small underwater explosive activities were confirmed by the Royal Canadian Navy on February 4, 5, and 6, 2012 in Canadian waters off Vancouver Island and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca but no marine mammals were observed during the activities. The activities occurred too far to the north and downwind of the stranding location to be a consideration in the stranding.

You can find the final draft of the report and background documents at the NOAA website.