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Rarely Seen Sei Whale Strands on S. Oregon Coast, Then Dies

Published 09/07/20 at 5:41 AM PDT - Updated 09/08/20 at 2:41 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rarely Seen Sei Whale Strands on S. Oregon Coast, Then Dies

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(Bandon, Oregon) – [UPDATE: According to CoastWatch it has been verified this is a Seit whale, and apparently the first time in 50 years one has been found here]. An unusual find on a southern Oregon coast beach turned to a sad story Saturday, as a species of whale that rarely washes up on these shores found its way to an area of Bandon. It showed up alive – which is also very rare – but died shortly after. (Photos courtesy Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department).

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) said it has been tentatively identified as a Sei whale, which is known to inhabit colder waters far to the north and especially the North Atlantic. Scientists believe there are some off the waters of the U.S. but are uncertain how many.

This could be one of the very few documented cases of a Sei whale on the Oregon coast.

Responding to the scene were Oregon State Police and Oregon State Park rangers, accompanied by science teams from Oregon State University, Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and representatives of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and NOAA Fisheries

The Sei whale was 38 feet long and a juvenile male, not fully grown.

On Sunday, a necropsy was begun on the whale to determine cause of death and possibly why it came ashore. Scientists from OSU, World Vets and Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research conducted the work.

OPRD said it plans to bury the carcass in the sand. The agency reminds the public it is illegal to take anything off of a dead whale.

Sei whales are an endangered species, hunted to the edge by commercial whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries. NOAA Fisheries estimates there were 300,000 of the whales killed for their meat and oil. Commercial whaling of the Sei finally ended in 1980.

While whaling is no longer a threat to this whale, some scientific whaling is still done in Iceland and Japan, and strikes from vessels along with entanglement are major factors in their deaths at sea.

It’s estimated there are some 8,600 of them in the north Pacific, which is only 20 percent left of their original population in that area. More photos below:

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