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Almost-Exploding Minke Whale Washes Up Near N. Oregon Coast Border

Published 05/30/2017 at 1:23 AM PDT - Updated 05/30/2017 at 2:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Almost-Exploding Minke Whale Washes Up Near N. Oregon Coast Border

(Seaside, Oregon) – An 18-foot Minke whale - already well deceased - made a rare appearance on northwest beaches, washing up on the Washington coast, not far from the Oregon border. It came with a rather disturbing aspect, however: parts of its innards were inflated and coming out of its mouth. (All photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

The small Minke arrived onshore on Sunday about 11 a.m. Responding to the scene were crews from the Seaside Aquarium on the Oregon coast, whose job it is to scope out such situations as part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Tiffany Boothe with the aquarium was among the first on the unusual and gruesome scene of a dead whale with a giant red blob protruding it.

“Visitors to the Long Beach Peninsula got the rare chance to see a small Minke whale washing ashore,” Boothe said. “The whale had died before washing in and had been drifting out at sea for some time. Long enough, that due to decomposition, gasses started to build up inside of the animal. Once the animal hit the beach, the pressure from the gasses combined with the immense weight of the animal pushed its diaphragm outside of its mouth.”

Back in September, the north Oregon coast had another similar incident, where a bloated whale washed up near Cannon Beach and parts of its insides were oozing out as well. That one stunk incredibly bad.

A combination of Seaside Aquarium and Portland State University staff are planning to perform a necreopsy on Wednesday to determine cause of death, which will in turn show whether there is disease present. If those tests are positive, it could pose a risk to human health and thus will be disposed of by being removed and buried.

If not, hopes are to recover the full skeleton of the whale and donate it to a school or research program. If that can't be done, officials would then leave it on the beach to become food for local wildlife.

In the meantime, the Seaside Aquarium urges the public to not touch the whale or let your pets do so.

Minke whales are not exactly uncommon to these waters – but they live in areas generally a ways offshore and much deeper. They are rarely seen from boats in the area, even more rarely than Orcas.

It is, however, very common to see them wash up. In 2010, Jim Rice, head of whale research at the central Oregon coast's Hatfield Marine Science Center, said they had records of five washing up between then and 1990.

They are the smallest of baleen whales in the world, meaning they eat by straining plankton through their mouths. Their mouths contain 50 to 70 of these baleen grooves.

Almost-Exploding Minke Whale Crash-Lands Near N. Oregon Coast

Other Minke strandings from the Seaside Aquarium below:

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