Posted by: The ocean update | December 23, 2015

Dead whale towed from Gig Harbor to Tacoma (Washington state, USA)

A team from Highline College’s Marine Science and Technology Center prepares Wednesday to tow a yearling humpback whale off the beach just north of Gig Harbor. Peter Haley

A team from Highline College’s Marine Science and Technology Center prepares Wednesday to tow a yearling humpback whale off the beach just north of Gig Harbor. Peter Haley

December 23rd, 2015. A dead yearling humpback whale that washed ashore in Gig Harbor last week was hitched to the stern of a boat Wednesday and towed across the Tacoma Narrows to the Thea Foss Waterway.

Once in Tacoma, the 23-foot long whale was to be placed on a flatbed tow truck and carted back across the Tacoma Narrows — this time via the bridge — to a farm in Gig Harbor.

On Saturday, the Cascadia Research Collective will do a necropsy to determine the animal’s cause of death. Then a crew of volunteers will help cut up the whale and bury it under a heap of horse manure on the farm to help it decompose.

By summer, the volunteers will return to exhume the whale and clean its skeleton before bringing it back to the Thea Foss Waterway.

Its final resting place will be the Foss Waterway Seaport. That’s where the skeleton will be articulated and placed on display for visitors to see as a part of the seaport’s marine education program.

Wesley Wenhardt, executive director of the seaport, said via email Wednesday that the organization is “really excited to work on this project.”

Volunteers with Highline College’s Marine Science and Technology Center helped organize Wednesday’s effort. Authorities with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association had contacted the center at the start of the week about the dead whale.

The female yearling was reported to authorities Dec. 18 on a section of beach north of the opening into Gig Harbor. The beach is accessible only during low tide.

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