OSU researcher revisits dead orca saga through genetic analysis
Earlier this year, KLCC reported on a killer whale carcass spotted off the Oregon Coast. While the carcass was never recovered, an Oregon State University researcher has made some determinations from its genetic residue.
The dead orca was first spotted by an angler in June. Its body was entangled with crabbing gear. Marine researchers hoped to learn the cause of death and its identity, but the carcass disappeared.
Some worried that it was K44, one of several endangered Southern Resident killer whales that disappeared around the same time.
Charles Nye, a graduate fellow with OSU’s Marine Mammals Institute, said he was able to examine some organic material from the crabbing gear line.
“That was pretty reminiscent of blubber or skin on a decayed whale. I’d done dissections and sampling of very far gone whales in the past, and this kinda matched that consistency.”
Nye has determined that the dead orca was not K44. He said while this is good news of sorts, it’s still sad the orca got entangled and people need to responsibly manage their crabbing gear.