Image of an orca that washed ashore in Marin last week. Photo by Richard James –
Image of an orca that washed ashore in Marin last week. Photo by Richard James –

Scientists are starting to study tissues of an 18 foot orca, or killer whale, that washed up along Marin’s coastline last week.

Jim Oswald with the Marine Mammal Center says it’s rare for a male juvenille for this to be found in local waters. He says right now there are many unknowns.

“What’s really interesting about this orca carcass is that we don’t see too many of those, it’s rare,” he says. “So all the information, the DNA they can get from the skin and tissue samples, all of that will help studying future species of Orcas. There’s much to learn from the creature.”

Oswald says there was trauma to the body and blowhole of the animal. He says it’s unclear if the injuries came from a ship strike and whether they happened before or after the animal died.

Oswald says scientists have collected samples of the blubber, dorsal fin and skull. He says they’re also looking at the contents of the whale’s stomach to see if it may have ingested plastic.

The Marine Mammal Center is working with scientists at the California Academy of Sciences.

The orca’s carcass was expected to return to sea with the tides.

You can see more images of the orca, including a video, by Richard James from the blog

Scientists Learning From Orca That Washed Ashore in Marin 29 November,2011Rachel Dornhelm


Rachel Dornhelm

Rachel Dornhelm has worked as a reporter, editor and producer in public radio for the last twelve years. She got her start in New York City at WNYC and went on to work with the national business program Marketplace, WBUR’s “On Point” and KQED News in San Francisco. Her work has been honored by the LA Press Club and the SF-Peninsula Press Club.

Rachel has a BA with honors in anthropology from Rice University and did graduate work at NYU.

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