Story at a glance

  • The carcasses of two fin whales surfaced after becoming dislodged from the hull of HMAS Sydney at Naval Base San Diego Saturday.
  • One of the dead whales was about 65 feet long and the other about 25 feet long.
  • The Australian warship has been conducting exercises with the U.S. Navy in the area since last month.

Two endangered fin whales were found dead as an Australian Navy ship berthed at a naval base in San Diego over the weekend, according to KGTV

An Australian destroyer dubbed the HMAS Sydney made its way into a pier at Naval Base San Diego Saturday morning when the carcasses of two fin whales became dislodged from the ship’s hull and surfaced. 


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One of the dead whales was about 65 feet long and the other about 25 feet long, according to KGTV. 

It’s not immediately clear how the whales died, but the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and other agencies to investigate the incident. 

“The Navy takes marine mammal safety seriously and is disheartened this incident occurred,” the Australian navy said in a statement. 

The Australian warship has been conducting exercises with the U.S. Navy in the area since last month. 

John Calambokidis, research biologist at the Cascadia Research Collective in Washington, told KGTV it's not uncommon for ships to realize they’ve struck a whale only after the vessel has slowed down. 

“In the vast majority of cases I’m familiar with, the ship is unaware of having struck the whale,” he told the outlet. 

He also said the dead whales could have been a mother and her calf. 

The fin whale, the second-largest species of whale, is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. While whaling is no longer a major threat to the species, its biggest threat today comes from vessel strikes, according to NOAA


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Published on May 12, 2021