DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale. Big knives and pikes were used to cut through the blubber. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Victoria necropsy on grey whale aims to unlock secrets of its death

Large grey whale found dead off the coast of Vancouver Island April 4

WARNING: Graphic content.

A dead grey whale found floating between Sidney Island and James Island was brought ashore for a necropsy Friday in North Saanich.

The whale was found April 4, and towed to the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), part of Oceans and Fisheries Canada (DFO), where scientists have conducted a necropsy to try and establish a cause of death.

ALSO READ: Slaying dragons: getting inside the minds of climate change skeptics

The large whale had about 10 scientists working on it, who used a collection of knives and tools, including a knife mounted on a pole, reminiscent of a pike.

As seen in the video, at one point escaping gas caused some of the insides of the whale to explode out, covering one of the workers’ arms with blood.

*Warning: This video contains graphic content and may not be suitable for all readers.

A strong fishy smell emanated from the whale.

Perhaps illustrating how dense and thick the whale’s blubber was, the pike-like tool snapped after being used for 30 minutes.

Incisions were made along the side of the whale and loud gurgling sounds lasting for approximately 20 seconds at a time were emitted by escaping gases created inside the whale due to the decomposition process.

The large incisions, each about a metre long, were cut through the whale’s thick blubber and then joined together with other cuts to form strips. These strips were then peeled away by two-person teams to reveal the whale’s internal organs.

ALSO READ: 70 babies found inside North Saanich Shark

A moving ceremony was conducted before the necropsy by representatives of the Tseycum First Nation.

The scientists hope that as well as establishing a cause of death, the necropsy will “feed into a growing body of knowledge to assist in assessing the threats to whales from a population health perspective.”

The DFO said they were working on the necrospy with help from the BC Ministry of Agriculture, particularly Dr. Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist.

A DFO source said the most likely cause of death, at this time, is illness, natural causes or being hit by a boat, but further tests will need to be conducted for a definitive answer.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale. Escaping gas made gurgling sounds. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale on a wharf overlooking Brentford Bay. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

A broken pike, the blade snapped due to the tough blubber. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Spotlight shines on dancers at Quesnel Festival of Performing Arts

Hundreds of dancers performed during the Dance Festival Feb. 14-17

Rotary Club of Quesnel’s first Walk for Water raises nearly $3,000

The money will be split between the Baker Creek Enhancement Society and the Roll-A-Hippo Foundation

Cariboo Regional District encourages Maple Drive residents to attend March 3 meeting about streetlights

Options for providing lights to improve safety include establishing a new taxation service

Ranch Musings: Encouraging the next generation

David Zirnhelt says balancing business and lifestyle may help the next generation stay on the ranch

Mighty Pucks beat Leftovers in Quesnel high school floor hockey overtime thriller

The Benchwarmers and Nordiques also pick up wins in Week 3

Illegal fishing, snowmobiling caught in Caribou-protected areas of northern B.C.

Closures are to support the recovery of caribou herds: BC Conservation Officer Service

UPDATE: Two killed in fiery collision on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

The Trans Canada Highway was closed for four hours

Father, two children killed after car goes over embankment on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Trout ‘doing quite well’ at Kootenay hatchery after otters, who ate 150 fish, relocated

River otters had been pillaging a moat outside the facility for months, gobbling up about 150 trout

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

Trudeau revisits blackface embarrassment during Black History Month

Photos and a video of Trudeau wearing makeup to darken his skin surfaced during last fall’s election campaign

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Most Read