Washed-up whale shows signs of ship strike

A 32-foot female humpback whale washed ashore at a beach near Pescadero in San Mateo County and scientists believe it might have been struck by a vessel, Marine Mammal Center officials said Tuesday.

Six scientists from the Marin Headlands-based center and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco responded Monday to Bean Hollow State Beach to perform a necropsy on the juvenile humpback whale, which is an endangered species.

The scientists found massive fractures to the back of the whale’s skull, evidence of blunt force trauma consistent with a vessel collision. It also had a cut on the front right flipper that could have been from a previous entanglement, center officials said.

Humpback whales have been sighted along the San Mateo County coast recently as they migrate north.

Earlier this month, scientists from the two organizations responded to a 30-foot male humpback whale that also washed ashore at Bean Hollow State Beach and had injuries consistent with a ship strike.

In recent years, the Marine Mammal Center responds to up to 11 whale strandings per year, according to the center.

Marine Mammal Center research assistant Barbie Halaska said in a statement:

“Every whale stranding serves as an opportunity to learn about these majestic creatures, and how we can prevent future deaths.”

Anyone who sees sick or injured marine mammals can report it to the center by calling (415) 289-SEAL.