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Search underway for dead orca spotted off Oregon Coast

An image shared on ifish.net shows a dead orca entangled with what appears to be some type of fishing or crabbing gear. A seagull is perched on the mammal's body.

Scientists are hoping to locate the carcass of an orca spotted off the Oregon Coast. This may be the first instance of a dead killer whale seen in the state.

An image uploaded to the website ifish.net on June 27th shows the distinctive black and white body of an orca floating on the ocean surface, with what appears to be crabbing or fishing gear wrapped around its tail.

“The goal is to learn as much as we can, both about the whale and what happened to it – the cause of death,” said Michael Milstein, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries-West Coast Region.

“These are opportunities to learn what we can do to better protect whales, we don’t have that many opportunities to see and learn about orcas off the Oregon Coast.”

Milstein said the orca’s body was found floating 30 miles off of Newport. He said they’re asking people to report its coordinates should they spot it. It’s estimated to be 16-18 ft. long.

“We think actually this may be the first orca entangled off the Oregon Coast that we’ve seen,” added Milstein. “We’ve certainly seen entangled whales, but the entangled whales tend to be usually grays or humpbacks for the most part. Orcas are of course, smaller and not necessarily feeding in the same way that exposes them to that.”

Milstein said people shouldn’t attempt to haul it in themselves, as that may endanger their craft or disrupt examination of the carcass. A successful necropsy will determine the cause of death, and if the fishing gear is commercial or recreational.

NOAA’s entanglement hotline is 1-877-SOS-WHAL or 1-877-767-9425.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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