DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale. Big knives and pikes were used to cut through the blubber. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Victoria necropsy on grey whale aims to unlock secrets of its death

Large grey whale found dead off the coast of Vancouver Island April 4

WARNING: Graphic content.

A dead grey whale found floating between Sidney Island and James Island was brought ashore for a necropsy Friday in North Saanich.

The whale was found April 4, and towed to the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), part of Oceans and Fisheries Canada (DFO), where scientists have conducted a necropsy to try and establish a cause of death.

ALSO READ: Slaying dragons: getting inside the minds of climate change skeptics

The large whale had about 10 scientists working on it, who used a collection of knives and tools, including a knife mounted on a pole, reminiscent of a pike.

As seen in the video, at one point escaping gas caused some of the insides of the whale to explode out, covering one of the workers’ arms with blood.

*Warning: This video contains graphic content and may not be suitable for all readers.

A strong fishy smell emanated from the whale.

Perhaps illustrating how dense and thick the whale’s blubber was, the pike-like tool snapped after being used for 30 minutes.

Incisions were made along the side of the whale and loud gurgling sounds lasting for approximately 20 seconds at a time were emitted by escaping gases created inside the whale due to the decomposition process.

The large incisions, each about a metre long, were cut through the whale’s thick blubber and then joined together with other cuts to form strips. These strips were then peeled away by two-person teams to reveal the whale’s internal organs.

ALSO READ: 70 babies found inside North Saanich Shark

A moving ceremony was conducted before the necropsy by representatives of the Tseycum First Nation.

The scientists hope that as well as establishing a cause of death, the necropsy will “feed into a growing body of knowledge to assist in assessing the threats to whales from a population health perspective.”

The DFO said they were working on the necrospy with help from the BC Ministry of Agriculture, particularly Dr. Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist.

A DFO source said the most likely cause of death, at this time, is illness, natural causes or being hit by a boat, but further tests will need to be conducted for a definitive answer.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale. Escaping gas made gurgling sounds. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

DFO and ISO Scientists complete a necropsy on the dead whale on a wharf overlooking Brentford Bay. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

A broken pike, the blade snapped due to the tough blubber. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Person steals sound system, Ipad from Rossland restaurant

Mook Thai Lounge staff have had to buy a new sound system at a cost of $700

UPDATE: Search effort underway for Slocan River drowning victim

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Fruitvale

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Creston Valley Hospital addresses COVID-19 rumours regarding farms

‘Not one seasonal worker in Creston has tested positive for COVID-19,’ said Dr. Nerine Kleinhans

Most Read