Orcas whale found dead off British Columbia coast, sixth to die this year

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Orcas whale found dead off British Columbia coast, sixth to die this year
Orcas whale found dead off British Columbia coast, sixth to die this year

An 18-year-old killer whale was found dead off the coast of British Columbia last week. It had suffered blunt-force trauma to the head.

In a statement by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the initial examination of the 18-year-old male known as J34 indicates it was struck along its back.

Scientists plan to x-ray the skull for signs of fractures. Additional information from blood and tissue analysis could take between two weeks and two months.

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Canadian authorities are investigating what caused the blunt force trauma. It may have been struck by a boat or another whale, officials said.

The 22-foot-long whale was in its prime but had shown signs of emaciation, according to the Center for Whale Research. Whale watchers had nicknamed it ‘Doublestuf’ – a reference to its mother, Oreo.

The whale was found floating near the B.C. coast on Tuesday and was towed to a beach north of Vancouver.

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As a member of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population, J34 spent much of the year in the Salish Sea. Southern Residents prey primarily on salmon, while their ocean-going relatives eat seals and other marine mammals.

The whale was the fifth member of J pod to die this year. The pod now stands at 25 members. Combined with K and L pods, only 79 Southern Residents remain.

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