Team performs necropsy on whale found on Alaska island

March 19, 2021 GMT

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A necropsy has been conducted on a humpback whale carcass found washed up on an island west of Sitka, officials said Friday.

Julie Fair, a spokesperson with NOAA Fisheries in Juneau, said in an email to The Associated Press that her agency received reports of a beached whale on Sunday. She said the U.S. Coast Guard helped provide transportation Thursday for members of the special team authorized to conduct the necropsy.

Jan Straley, a University of Alaska Southeast biology professor authorized to respond to stranded marine mammals, told the Daily Sitka Sentinel the necropsy involved taking samples from the carcass and photographs that could help determine how the whale died.

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The team included University of Alaska Southeast faculty members and marine scientists; a local high school biology teacher; two volunteers and a member of the NOAA office of law enforcement designated as a “bear guard,” the newspaper reported.

Fair said NOAA Fisheries’ marine mammal experts expected to receive a briefing as soon as Friday.