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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

After 37 years, Campbell River Arts Council annual members’ show goes online

38th Annual Members Show shifted from physical gallery to website

Campbell River Arts Council’s Banner Project coming to a home near you

‘Banners will be reflective of how a community can stay positive even in difficult times,’ – CRAC executive director

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Campbell River community COVID-19 agencies, services and resources list

The list outlines status of social agencies in the community

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Most Read