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

 

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

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

OP-ED: Striking a balance with the oil tanker moratorium

Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut, on protecting Canada’s environment and economy with Bill C-48

Over $70,000 in grants for crime prevention on the North Coast

Three organizations on Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert and Bella Coola will receive support

MP Nathan Cullen to testify at oil tanker ban committee hearings

Senators travel to Prince Rupert and Terrace as part of fact-finding mission on Bill C-48

UPDATE: Four victims identified in deadly Penticton shooting spree

John Brittain, 68, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Elizabeth May’s B.C. wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

Most Read