Whale loses deadly battle with passing ship

It was a sad ending for a federally-endangered fin whale off the shores of Marin.

Officials said Monday the dead 47-foot whale that washed up south of Wildcat Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore was likely killed by a boat strike. Biologists concluded the male juvenile whale had significant damage to its spine, tissue and ribs.

A similar incident occurred in 2010 at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, where a dead fin whale apparently killed by a boat washed ashore.

Fin whales are an incredibly rare sight at sea, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cordell Bank Superintendent Dan Howard:

“There have been only two previous live sightings of fins in the past eight-plus years of our cruises, despite intensive effort. Both occurred in 2004, and none since.”

This particular fin whale was one of only a few who had been spotted alive by researchers in the last eight years.

Fin whales are filter feeders, making meals of fish, squid and krill. They are the fastest species of large whale and can cruise along the ocean at a swift 25 mph.

Fin whales are listed under the Endangered Species Act and are found throughout the world. Their population in waters off California and Washington is estimated at just 2,000.