Dead whale tied up on Angel Island

A dead whale that washed up near the Oakland waterfront on Saturday is now tied to a pier on Angel Island waiting for clear weather so local marine biologists can investigate the cause of death.

The female cetacean is either a blue or fin whale and is between 40 to 60 feet long, said Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli.

On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard called the Marine Mammal Center to report a whale carcass floating upside down near Oakland’s Howard Terminal, Rulli said.

The Center sent out two staffers to examine the animal, which is believed to be “sub-adult” and in “good body condition,” although quite obviously dead.

This morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used two boats to tow the carcass to an area near Blunt Point on Angel Island, where there is ample space to haul it onto a beach for a necropsy once weather permits.

The necropsy can be observed by the public and “people can get fairly close and check the animal out,” Rulli said.

The experience isn’t for everyone, and “for those that maybe have uneasy stomachs, especially when the animal is opened up, it can be relatively ripe,” he said.

The procedure will help scientist not only determine the cause of death, but can provide insights to the species in general and even wider oceanic conditions.

“It’s a really good learning opportunity,” Rulli said.

It’s not terribly unusual for a large marine animal to be found dead in local waters and last year the Marine Mammal Center responded to more than 30 calls about dead dolphins, porpoises and whales.

In October a dead blue whale washed ashore on a Daly City beach and biologists were able to determine that it died after being hit by a ship, Rulli said.