Whale likely dead when it hit ship near Alaska

August 4, 2010 4:07:26 AM PDT
Federal fisheries officials say a whale found dead on the bow of a cruise ship operating in Alaska was likely already dead when it struck the vessel. The 43-foot-long whale was discovered last week on the bow of the Juneau-bound Sapphire Princess.

Officials say preliminary results of a necropsy performed Friday show evidence that the whale suffered other injuries before the ship strike. For instance, they say an amputated pectoral fin indicates the whale was involved in an earlier boat strike, causing debilitation, death or both.

Officials say ventral pleats in the lower jaw also were missing, which could be evidence of scavenging by killer whales.