By Pete Thomas
A whale carcass discovered late Wednesday inside Long Beach Harbor has been identified as fin whale.
The juvenile mammal measured 40 feet and probably was struck by a ship and brought into the harbor – unbeknownst to the crew – attached to the vessel.
“Live fin whales have never been documented inside the harbor, so that’s a likely scenario,” said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a researcher who was among those inspecting the carcass on Thursday. “But we won’t know until we see the results of the necropsy.”
A necropsy, conducted by NOAA, will be performed Friday or Saturday.
The carcass remained tied to a West Basin pier to keep it in place. There were no visible wounds to indicate a ship strike, but much of the carcass remained submerged and was not inspected.
Schulman-Janiger, a whale researcher with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said the whale, which was “freshly dead." The mammal was likely less than 1 year old, but had already been weaned. “So it was not taken from its mom,” the researcher said.
Fin whales are the second-largest whale species, behind blue whales. The sleek mammals can reach lengths of about 80 feet.
Several fin whales have been spotted recently off Long Beach. On one day during the past week, as many as eight fin whales were spotted by passengers aboard whale-watching vessels.
Fin whales, which are sometimes called “greyhounds of the sea” because of their speed, prey largely on shrimp-like krill and small fish.